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Brigham Young University 


Ace. NoaJY^'\ "JU. 


Alvar Nunez Cabeza 


from Florida to the Pacific 


together with the Report of 
Father Marcos of Nizza and a 
Letter from the Viceroy Mendoza 


Ad. F. Bandelier 




New York 

Copyright, 1904, by 
Williams'Barker Co. 

IPrinted in the United States of America 

Cla rcIaciojiqueoiogKuarnu^ 

nc5cabfcat)ei^caDelo acadcido enlae^ndiad 
cnia armada ootrde ^ua po: gouamadet i{>i 

Ylterebal!aelanot$tretiitat fcyo 
i^uc boU3to a S?em$ll^WR?$ 


Reduced fac-simile from the original in the Lenox 
Branch of N. Y. Public Library. 


THIS volume offers the original nar- 
rative of the first white man to cross 
North America. The remarkable 
journey of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, 
Andres Dorantes, Alonso del Castillo Mal- 
donado, and the Moor Estevanico, from 
Florida to Northwestern Mexico (Sonorai 
and Sinaloa), near the Pacific coast, ante- 
dates the expeditions of Coronado and De 
Soto, whose histories have already been pub- 
lished in The Trail-Makers. Nevertheless, 
it is proper to publish his narrative later^ 
Compared with either of them, the journej^ 
of Cabeza de Vaca and his companions is an 
episode, important, but an incident brought 
about by a disastrous failure. This history 
describes the only — and comparatively 
meagre — results of the expedition under- 
taken by Pamfilo de Narvaez in 1527, and 
an outcome which had nothing more to do 
with Narvaez and his ill-conducted scheme. 


Yet it is certaipx that the appearance of Ca- 
beza de Vaca and his fellow-sufferers at 
Culiacan, and their statements, directed the 
attention of the Spanish authorities at the 
young city of Mexico to the North more 
•than the reports about the Seven Cities and 
the raids which Nufio de Guzman had made 
in that direction. Nevertheless, the impor- 
tance of the story of Cabeza de Vaca must 
not be overestimated. A perusal of the nar- 
rative shows that the forlorn wanderers 
were not — as it has long been admitted — 
the "discoverers of New Mexico." They 
never saw, nor do they claim to have seen, 
any of the so-called "Pueblos." They only 
heard of them, in a more or less confused 
manner. On the other hand, more precise 
than their information on this point is what 
they said about the plains, their Indians; 
and it seems above all doubt that the first 
knowledge of the American Bison, or Buf- 
falo, is due to their descriptions. 

On the minds of the Spanish occupants of 
Mexico, especially on what may be called 
the floating population (proportionately 

large at the time, as everywhere in newly 



occupied countries), the impression of the 
feat performed by the travellers and the tale 
of their unequalled sufferings produced a 
much greater effect than on the authorities. 
The people saw in their reports an outline 
for a possible advance into the unknown be- 
yond. The picture of the country traversed 
was, in the main, not enticing, but the allu- 
sion to permanent settlements beyond the 
unprepossessing plains was looked upon as 
full of promise. The outcome was a mod- 
erate "excitement" among the adventurous 
and the idle, and this excitement was ably 
taken advantage of by the Viceroy of New: 
Spain, Don Antonio de Mendoza. 

This high functionary, as sagacious as he- 
was cautious, regarded the real merits of 
Cabeza de Vaca (who is the representative 
figure in the whole episode) with reserve. 
On February nth (old style), 1537, he 
wrote to the Empress recommending Cabeza 
de Vaca and Dorantes (the letter mentions 
Dorantes, but it was Castillo who went ta 
Spain with Cabeza de Vaca) to the benevo- 
lence of the monarch, in consideration of: 

"what they have done in it [this country]! , 



and suffered, and their disposition to con- 
tinue there and here, wherever they may- 
be sent." He does not seem to attach 
more than a modest importance to the prac- 
tical results of their adventures. In that 
same letter he states that the wanderers had 
already made a report to him on their jour- 
ney, which report he had sent to the Empress 
previously. It cannot be the one contained 
in Oviedo's Historia General y Natural de 
Indias (Edition of 1850, Vol. Ill, Lib. 
IXXXV), since the latter was directed to the 
Audiencia of Santo Domingo. There is a 
fragment of a Relacion attributed to Cabeza 
<ie Vaca alone, without date, in Vol. XIV 
of the Documentos Ineditos de Indias. It 
reads like a resume, or condensation, of the 
narrative presented in this volume. This 
fragment terminates abruptly at the time 
when a meeting of Cabeza de Vaca and Do- 
rantes was being prepared. It is entitled, 
"Relacion de Cabeza de Vaca, tesorero que 
fue en la canquista," and preceded by a 
truncated copy of the directions which the 
King issued to Cabeza de Vaca as ''Factor" 

of the expedition. Whether this document 



{noticed in the Index under a very mislead- 
ing title) is perhaps the first report men- 
tioned in the letter of Mendoza from Febru- 
ary, 1537, I am unable to decide thus far, 
but there are some indications favoring the 

The influence which the return and re- 
ports of Cabeza de Vaca and companions 
may have had upon the subsequent enter- 
prise of Hernando de Soto was, if any, but 
slight. The contract made with the latter 
by the Crown on April 20, 1537 (Document 
tos de Indias, Vol. XXII, pp. 534 to 546: 
Capitulacion que se to mo con Hernando de 
SoifOj para conquistar y pohlar desde el Rio 
de las Palmas hasta la Florida) does not per- 
mit any conclusion on this point. The first 
report of the outcasts had probably reached 
Spain before that time, but on August 15, 
of the same year, Cabeza de Vaca was still 
at Lisbon. The statements of other sur- 
vivors of the expedition of Narvaez (men- 
tioned at the close of our narrative as having 
been met by Cabeza de Vaca in Mexico and 
in Spain) cannot have been very encourag- 
ing to a fresh attempt at penetrating Florida. 



Still, Soto tried to enlist the services of 
Cabeza de Vaca, but failed. 

Of the biography of Cabeza de Vaca only 
such portions are well known as relate to 
his career in America. It is also known 
that he was born in Jerez de la Frontera, 
in Spain, and hence was an Andalusian. 
His father — according to Oviedo — was 
Francisco de Vera, son of the Spanish Con- 
queror of the Canaries, Pedro de Vera. His 
mother was Teresa Cabeza de Vaca, a native 
of Jerez ^ Why he assumed the name of his 
mother in place of his paternal appellative 
I am unable to state. The family of Cabeza 
de Vaca bore, originally, the name Alhaja. 
They were simple peasants until after the 
battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, on July ii, 
12 12, which the Kings of Castile, Aragon 
and Navarra gained over the Moors. A few 
days before the battle, a shepherd by the 
name of Alhaja offered to show the Chris- 
tian forces a path by which they might cir- 
cumvent the mountain-passes held by the 
Moors in strong force. To indicate it, 
he placed at the entrance of the defile the 
skull of a cow. In recompense for this emi- 


lient service, Martin Alhaja, until then a 
humble shepherd, .was ennobled, and he 
changed his name into that of Cabeza de 
[V gLca (head of a cow, literally ) in memory 
of the origin of his improved social condi- 
tion. Several of his descendants held com- 
paratively high positions, among them Don 
Pero Fernandez Cabeza de Vaca, elected 
grand master of the order of Knights of St. 
James in 1383. 

The career of Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de 
Vaca in America was particularly unfortu- 
nate. After the disastrous termination of 
[Narvaez's expedition and his (almost mirac- 
ulous) return to Spain, he obtained as a re- 
ward for his sufferings the position of Gov- 
ernor of the settlements on the La Plata 
river, vacant since the death of Pedro de 
iMendoza. Reaching his post in 1 541, he 
soon became the object of sinister intrigues 
on the part of his subordinates. The ani- 
mosity against him broke out, in 1543, in 
open revolt. He was seized and sent to 
Spain as a prisoner. His (mild) captivity 
there lasted eight years. It is asserted that 
lie lived in Sevilla to an advanced age, and 


occupied, up to his demise (the date of 
which I have not yet been able to find), an 
honorable and fairly lucrative position. 

Concerning the conduct of Cabeza de 
Vaca as Governor on the La Plata, or 
Parana, the opinions of eye-witnesses are 
divided. Some speak in his favor; others, 
like the German Ulrich (or Huldreich) 
Schmiedel, of Straubing, accused him of 
haughty demeanor towards his men and 
cruelty. Oviedo, who knew him personally 
and conversed with him on the matter, is 
non-committal. It seems likely that Cabeza 
de Vaca was an honest and well-intentioned 
man, and he may have been a good sub- 
altern but unfit for superior command. 
Hence he proved a failure as soon as raised 
to a position above the scope of his abilities^ 
Of the three companions of Cabeza de 
Vaca little is known. Andres Dorantes^ 
who had been a captain with Narvaez, was 
the son of Pablo Dorantes, a native of Gib- 
raleon, Castilla. Maldonado was from Sala- 
manca, and the son of Doctor Castillo and 
Aldonza Maldonado. He is said to have 

remained in Spain, whereas Dorantes stayed 



in Mexico, and entered, in 1538, into an 
agreement with the Viceroy for a journey of 
exploration to the north or Sinaloa. It was 
never carried out. Lastly the "negro," 
Estevanico was an Arab Moor, from the 
town of Azamor, on the Atlantic coast of 
Morocco. It is therefore not unlikely that 
he was not a- negro proper, but from one or 
the other of the tribes of the desert. His 
subsequent fate is well known. As guide 
and advance scout of Father Marcos, of 
Nizza, he became the victim of his own 
imprudence, or larck of understanding of 
the differences in customs and beliefs be- 
tween Indian tribes far distant from each 

It is well known that Cabeza de Vaca 
wrote two principal works, both of which 
were published at Valladolid in 1555 by 
Francisco Fernandez de Cordova. The first 
one of these two books is a second issue of 
the one translated here. The other gives an 
account of his vicissitudes in Paraguay and 
what is now the Argentine Republic, and 
bears the title of Comentarios de Alvar 
Nunez Cabeza de VacU, Adelantado y Gob- 



ernador del Rio de la Plata. The print from 
1555 is the earliest known of the Comen^ 
tario's. Of the Naufragios here translated! 
an earlier issue has been found. Only two 
copies of it are known : One, which is per^ 
feet, is at the Lenox branch of the Public 
Library of New York ; the other, somewhat 
damaged, at the British Museum.. This old-* 
est print of the Naufragios is from 1542 and 
was published at Zamora. Its text has been 
followed exclusively in this translation. The 
(reduced) photographic reproductions o£ 
the title-pages of both editions and of the 
kolophon of the first edition give an idea ol 
the appearance of both of these books, the 
extreme rarity of which makes it difficult 
for the general reader to see them. Botli 
are small quartos. The 1542 edition has no 
headings for chapters, and this has been fol* 
lowed here. 

Oviedo, who gives the text in full of the 
Letter handed to the Audiencia of Santo 
Domingo by Cabeza de Vaca and Castillo 
when they touched that port on their return * 
to Spain, in 1537, has used the 1542 print 
for comparison with that letter. The second 



edition appeared two years before his death 
(which occurred in 1557), but it is manifest 
that he did not use it. 

Comparing the Letter to the Audiencia 
"with the book of Cabeza de Vaca, Oviedo in- 
cHnes in favor of the former. He remarks : 
"But in a certain way I hold the report of 
the three to be good and more clear than 
the other one, which a single man made and 
has had printed," &c. But Cabeza de Vaca 
was one of the three who framed the Letter 
to the Audiencia, and this document is 
merely a more concise narration than his 
book, and does not, on important points, 
conflict with it. The latter was written in 
Spain, when the author had leisure to recol- 
lect and to write. In a foot-note I have al- 
luded to the statement, made in the book, 
about little bags filled with silver, which, 
Oviedo says, contained only mica. This, 
however, he distinctly attributes to a mis- 
print, not to a misstatement by the author. 
On the whole, the difference between the 
two documents is so slight that there has 
been no occasion to publish the Letter to the 
Audiencia also. 



Oviedo mentions Andres Dorantes among^ 
the signers of the Letter, which was, as he 
states, sent to the Audiencia at Santo Do- 
mingo from Havana. Cabeza de Vaca af- 
firms Dorantes remained at Vera Cruz, and 
thence went back to Mexico. This is fully 
established by the communications of the 
Viceroy, Mendoza, notwithstanding Her- 
rera says he returned to Spain with his 
companions. The objection may be re- 
moved, however, by supposing, as is very 
likely, that the Letter was writen in Mex- 
ico, when the three were still together. 

A very serious objection to the credibility 
of the three narratives, however, arises from 
the fact that all are based upon recollections 
only, and not upon journals or field-notes of 
any kind. It was, of course, impossible for 
the outcasts, shifted and shifting from tribe 
to tribe, to keep any written record of their 
trip. Many of their descriptions are not^ 
therefore, expected to be fully accurate. 

At the end of the eight years of constant 
misfortune and suffering, memory clings 
most to personal vicissitudes, and the narra- 
tive of these does not appear exaggerated. 



The descriptions of the countries traversed^ 
superficial as they must be, still leave some 
recognizable data, and so do the descriptions- 
of plants and animals. It is acknowledged 
that through Cabeza de Vaca the first knowl- I 
edge of the buffalo reached Europe, and his I 
description of the hunchbacked cows, while-' 
very brief, is quite accurate. 
^^ Descriptions of customs and habits of In- 
dian tribes or bands, especially of such as 
lived east of the Rio Grande, must of course 
be accepted with proper reserve. Still, many 
may yet prove to be of ethnologic value,- 
The general picture of the condition of these 
tribes is very likely to be exact, while, on 
the other hand, many details are probably 
misstated, through having been misunder- 
stood or superficially observed. It might be 
worth while to make a special study of these 
ethnographic data and compare them witlr 
whatever material of the kind has been^ 
placed on record by subsequent explorers- 
and narrators. 

In the statements regarding the "faithr 
cures" which the travellers claim to have- 
performed, and to which they attribute thr 



success of their desperate attempt to cross 
the continent, there is truth as well as hon- 
est delusion. Indian medicine itself bases 
largely upon conceptions of the kind, and 
empirical hypnotism plays a part in the per- 
formances of their medicine-men. Cabeza 
de Vaca, unconsciously and by distinct 
methods, imitated the Indian Shamans and 
probably succeeded, in at least many cases, 
since the procedure was new and striking. 
That they attributed their success to the di- 
rect aid of divine power was in strict accord- 
ance with the spirit of the times and by no 
means to their discredit. On the contrary, 
there is a commendable modesty in their dis- 
claimer of merits of their own. It should 
also not be forgotten that men in their ex- 
ceptional situation, without reasonable hope 
of salvation, relentlessly persecuted by mis- 
fortune and the worst hardships for many 
years, have their imagination finally raised 
to the higest pitch, and exaggerations and 
misconceptions become therefore excusable. 

There is no doubt that they sincerely be- 
lieved their own statements. Not only the 
times must be taken into account when 



judgment is passed, but also the violent 
strain under which they labored for such a 
long period. 

In regard to the route followed by the 
outcasts, there are but very few ascertained 
points. Opinions vary so much that I shall 
not attempt to trace the course of their wan- 
derings except by referring to the sketch- 
map appended. The route traced is a mere 
suggestion of possible approximations, as 
stated on it. It will certainly be modified 
by the results of investigations in the coun- 
tries themselves, which I have not been and 
am not able to carry on myself. It seems, 
however, that the overland journey of the 
four began at some point west of the Missis- 
sippi, and that they successively traversed 
the State of Texas and the northern part of 
the Mexican Republic into central Sonora* 
It is not likely they touched New Mexico^ 
and they certainly never saw the New Mexi^ 
can pueblos, but heard of them in Sonora* 
Cabeza de Vaca- therefore but confirmed the 
few vague notions extant at his time about 
the sedentary Indians of New Mexico, but 

was not the real discoverer of that country* 



The bibliography of the book of Cabeza 
de Vaca is soon told. In addition to the two 
issues often mentioned — ^the Editio Princeps 
from 1542, and the second of 1555 — there 
are two more Spanish publications of it 
known. The earliest is in Volume II of the 
Collection by Andres Gonzales Barcia, His- 
toriades primitivos de Indias, 1749. Its title 
is : Naufragios y relacion de la Jornada que 
hizo a la Florida, con Pdniilo de Narvaez, 

The other is found in Volume II of. the 
Histariadores primitivos de Indias, by En- 
rique de Vedia. The title of this (the text 
of which was taken from the Edition of 
1555) reads: Naufragios de Alvar Nunez 
Cabeza de Vaca y Relacion de la Jornada 
que hizo a la Florida con el Adelantado Pan- 
£lo de Narvaez. It is well known that the 
two volumes of Vedia's reprints of older 
narratives and histories touching upon 
America form a part of the voluminous col- 
lection entitled, Bihlioteca de Autores Espa- 
noles, published at Madrid, and that the two 
volumes of Vedia were printed in 1852. 

An Italian version, under the title of Re- 
lation che fece Alvar Nvnez detto Capo di 



Vacca. di quello ch' intervenne nell India 
all' armata, della qual era gouernatore Pam- 
philo Naruaez, dell anno 1527 iino all 1536, 
che ritorno in Sihilla con tu soli siioi com- 
pagni, is contained in Volume II of the cele- 
brated collection of travels and voyages by 
Gian Battista Ramusio, Delle Navigatione e 
Viaggi, 1556, Venice. 

Of English translations there have ap- 
peared thus far three : In Samuel Purchas : 
His Pilgrimage, London, 1625- 1626, Vol- 
ume IX : Relation of the Ueet in India, 
ivhereof Pamphilus Naruaes was gouernor. 
The Narrative of Alva Nunez Cabeza de 
Vaca.j translated by Buckingham Smith, 
Washington, 1851. This translation is just- 
ly prized. A second edition of it appeared 
at New York in 1871, edited by the late John 
Gilmary Shea. Finally there is a paraphrase 
of the book in Tales of Old Travels, Nar- 
rated by H. Kingsley, London, 1869. 

In the French language there is the well- 
known translation by H. Ternaux Compans 
in the first series of his collection : Voyages, 
Relations et Memoires originaux pour servir 

a rHistoire de la Decouverte de I'Amerique. 



Date of publication, 1837. Title : Relation 
Vaca, Adelantade et Gouverneur du Rio de 
la Plata. 

A word yet touching the translation here 
given. The narrative of Cabeza de Vaca is 
yery difficult to translate for the reason, that 
the criticism by Oviedo about its lack 
of clearness is too well founded. Many 
parts of chapters and also whole chapr- 
ters are so confused that it is impos- 
sible to follow the original more than re- 
motely, and paraphrasing had to be resorted 
to. Even then, in several instances, the 
meaning remains possibly somewhat ob- 
scure. It is as if the author, in consequence 
of long isolation and constant intercourse 
with people of another speech, had lost touch 
with his native tongue. There is less of this 
in his later work, the Comentarios, written 
after a number of years of uninterrupted in- 
tercourse with his countrymen. 

New York City, March 28, 1905. 


£a rctocion p comcntiirios oel goucma 

Con piiuHc^o* 

Reduced from original in Lenox Branch of 
N, Y, Public Library. 

The Journey of Alvar Nunez 
Cabeza De Vaca 

ON the 27th day of the month of June, 
1527/ the Governor Panfilo de Nar- 
vaez departed from the port of 
San Lucar de Barrameda, with authority 
and orders from Your Majesty to conquer 
and govern the provinces that extend from 
the river of the Palms to the Cape of the 
Florida, these provinces being on the main 
land. The fleet he took along consisted of 
five vessels, in which went about 600 men. 
The officials he had with him (since they 
must be mentioned) were those here named : 
Cabeza de Vaca, treasurer and alguacil 
mayor ; Alonso Enriquez, purser ; Alonso de 
Solis, factor of Your Majesty and inspector. 
A friar of the order of Saint Francis, called 
Fray Juan Gutierrez,^ went as commissary, 

V».ll the dates are old style, of course. 

^The edition of 1555 and subsequent publications 
have Fray Juan Suarez, which the first edition 
from 1542 also has, as will be seen subsequently, 
so that the name of this Commissary of the Fran- 
ciscans must have been Suarez, or (as it is also 
written) Xuarez. 



with four other monks of the order. We 
arrived at the Island of Santo Domingo, 
where we remained nearly forty-five days, 
supplying ourselves with necessary things, 
especially horses. Here more than 140 men 
of our army forsook us, who wished to re- 
main, on account of the proposals and prom- 
ises made them by the people of the country. 
From there we started and arrived at San- 
tiago (a port in the Island of Cuba) where, 
in the few days that we remained the Gov- 
ernor supplied himself again with people, 
arms and horses. It happened there that a 
gentleman called Vasco Porcallo, a resi- 
dent of la Trinidad (which is on the same 
island), offered to give the Governor 
certain stores he had at a distance of 
100 leagues from the said harbor of San- 

The Governor, with the whole fleet, sailed 
for that place, but midways, at a port 
named Cape Santa Cruz, he thought best to 
stop and send a single vessel to load and 
bring these stores. Therefore he ordered a 
certain Captain Pantoja to go thither with 
his craft and directed me to accompany him 


for the sake of control, while he remained 
with four ships, having purchased one on 
the Island of Santo Domingo. Arrived at 
the port of Trinidad with these two vessels. 
Captain Panto j a went with Vasco Porcallo 
to the town (which is one league from 
there) in order to take possession of the 
supplies. I remained on board with the 
pilots, who told us that we should leave as 
soon as possible, since the harbor was very- 
unsafe and many vessels had been lost in it. 
Now, since what happened to us there was 
very remarkable, it appeared to me not un- 
suitable, for the aims and ends of this, my 
narrative, to tell it here. 

The next morning the weather looked 
ominous. It began to rain, and the sea 
roughened so that, although I allowed the 
men to land, when they saw the weather 
and that the town was one league away, 
many came back to the ship so as not to be 
out in the wet and cold. At the same time 
there came a canoe from the town convey- 
ing a letter from a person residing there, 
begging me to come, and they would give 
me the stores and whatever else might be 



necessary. But I excused myself, stating 
that I could not leave the ships. 

At noon the canoe came again with an- 
other letter, repeating the request with 
much insistency, and there was also a horse 
for me to go on. I gave the same reply 
as the first time, saying that I could not 
leave the vessels. But the pilots and the 
people begged me so much to leave and 
hasten the transportation of the stores to 
the ships, in order to be able to sail soon, 
from a place where they were in great 
fear the ships would be lost in case they had 
to remain long. So I determined upon go- 
ing, although before I went I left the pilots 
well instructed and with orders in case the 
south wind (which often wrecked the ship- 
ping) should rise, and they found them- 
selves in great danger, to run the vessels 
ashore, when men and horses might be 
saved. So I left, wishing for some of them 
to accompany me, but they refused, alleging 
the hard rain, the cold and that the town 
was far away. 

On the next day, which was Sunday, they 
promised to come, God helping, to hear 



mass. One hour after my departure the 
sea became very rough and the north wind 
blew so fiercely that neither did the boats 
dare to land, nor could they beach the ves- 
sels, since the wind was blowing from the 
shore. They spent that day and Sunday 
greatly distressed by two contrary storms 
and much rain, until nightfall. Then the 
rain and storm increased in violence at the 
village, as well as on the sea, and all the 
houses and the churches fell down, and we 
had to go about, seven or eight men locking 
arms at a time, to prevent the wind from 
carrying us off, and under the trees it was 
not less dangerous than among the houses, 
for as they also were blown down we were 
in danger of being killed beneath them. In 
this tempest and peril we wandered about 
all night, without finding any part or place 
where we might feel safe for half an hour. 
In this plight we heard, all night long and 
especially after midnight, a great uproar, the 
sound of many voices, the tinkling of little 
bells, also flutes and tambourines and other 
instruments, the most of which noise lasted 
until morning, when the storm ceased. 



Never has such a fearful thing been wit- 
nessed in those parts. I took testimony con* 
cerning it, and sent it, certified, to Your 
Majesty. On Monday morning we went 
down to the harbor, but did not find the ves- 
sels. We saw the buoys in the water, and 
from this knew that the ships were lost. So 
we followed the shore, looking for wreck- 
age, and not finding any turned into the for- 
est. Walking through it we saw, a fourth 
of a league from water, the little boat of one 
of the vessels on the top of trees, and ten 
leagues further, on the coast, were two men 
of my crew and certain covers of boxes. 
The bodies were so disfigured by striking 
against the rocks as to be unrecognizable. 
There were also found a cape and a tattered 
quilt, nothing else. Sixty people and twenty 
horses perished on the ships. Those who 
went on land the day we arrived, some thirty 
men, were all who survived of the crews of 
both vessels. 

We remained thus for several days in 
great need and distress, for the food and 
stores at the village had been ruined also, 
as well as some cattle. The country was 


pitiable to look at. The trees had fallen 
and the woods were blighted, and there was 
neither foliage nor grass. In this condition 
we were until the 5th day of the month of 
November, when the Governor, with his 
four vessels, arrived. They also had weath- 
ered a great storm and had escaped by be- 
taking themselves to a safe place in time. 
The people on board of the ships and those 
he found were so terrified by what had hap- 
pened that they were afraid to set to sea 
again in winter and begged the Governor 
to remain there for that season, and he, see- 
ing their good will and that of the inhabi- 
tants, wintered at that place. He put into 
my charge the vessels and their crews, and 
I was to go with them to the port of Xagua, 
twelve leagues distant, where I remained 
until the 20th day of February. 

A T that time the Governor came with 

/\ a brig he had bought at Trinidad, 

and with him a pilot called Miruelo. 

That man he had taken because he said 

he knew the way and had been on the 



river of the Palms and was a very good 
pilot for the whole northern coast. The 
Governor left, on the coast of Habana, an- 
other vessel that he had bought there, on 
which there remained, as captain, Alvaro de 
Cerda, with forty people and twelve horse- 
men. Two days after the Governor ar-\ 
rived he went aboard. The people he took , 
along were 400 men and eighty horses, on j 
four vessels and one brigantine. The pilot / 
we had taken ran the vessels aground on the 
sands called "of Canarreo," so that the next 
day we were stranded and remained strand- 
ed for fifteen days, the keels often touching- 
bottom. Then a storm from the south drove 
so much water on the shoals that we could 
get off, though not without much danger. 
Departing from there and arrived at 
Guaniguanico, another tempest came up in 
which we nearly perished. At Cape Cor- 
rientes we had another, which lasted three 
days. Afterward we doubled the Cape of 
Sant Anton and sailed with contrary winds 
as far as twelve leagues off Habana, and 
when, on the following day, we attempted to 

enter, a southerly storm drove us away, so 



that we crossed to the coast of Florida, 
sighting land on Tuesday, the I2th day of 
the month of April.^ We coasted the way 
of Florida, and on Holy Thursday cast an- 
chor at the mouth of a bay, at the head of 
which we saw certain houses and habita- 
tions of Indians. 

ON that same day the clerk, Alonso 
Enriquez, left and went to an island 
in the bay and called the Indians, 
who came and were with him a good while, 
and by way of exchange they gave him fish 
and some venison. The day following 
(which was Good Friday) the Governor 
disembarked, with as many men as his little 
boats would hold, and as we arrived at the 
huts or houses of the Indians we had seen, 
we found them abandoned and deserted, the 

•Same date in Oviedo (Historia general y nat- 
ural de Indias, Vol. Ill, p. 582. But the details 
of the stay on the coast and in the ports of Cuba 
are only found in Cabeza de Vaca's book, and in 
his Relacion (Docuntentos de Indias, Vol. XIV, 
p. 289) , where he mentions two tempests : the 
great hurricane and one that nearly wrecked them 
near Cape Corrientes. That Relacion seems like 
an abridgement of the Naufragios. 



people having left that same night in their 
canoes. One of those houses was so large 
that it could hold more than 300 people. 
The others were smaller, and we found a 
golden rattle among the nets. The next day 
the Governor hoisted flags in behalf of Your 
Majesty and took possession of the country 
in Your Royal name, exhibited his creden- 
tials, and was acknowledged as Governor 
according to Your Majesty's commands. 
We likewise presented our titles to him, 
and he complied as they required. He 
then ordered the remainder of the men to > 
disembark, also the forty-two horses left 
(the others having perished on account of 
the great storms and the long time they had 
been on sea), and these few that remained 
were so thin and weak that they could be of 
little use for the time. The next day the 
Indians of that village came, and, although 
they spoke to us, as we had no interpreters 
we did not understand them ; but they made 
many gestures and threats, and it seemed as 
if they beckoned to us to leave the country. 
Afterward, without offering any molesta- 
tion, they went away. 



AFTER another day the Governor re- 
solved to penetrate inland to ex- 
plore the country and see what it 
contained. We went with him; — the com- 
missary, the inspector and myself, with 
forty men, among them six horsemen, who 
seemed likely to be of but little use. We 
took the direction of the north, and at the 
hour of vespers reached a very large bay, 
which appeared to sweep far inland. After 
remaining there that night and the next 
day, we returned to the place where the ves- 
sels and the men were. The Governor or- 
dered the brigantine to coast towards Flor- 
ida in search of the port which Miruelo, the 
pilot, had said he knew, but he had missed 
it and .did not know where we were, nor 
where the port was. So word was sent to 
the brigantine, in case it were not found to 
cross over to Habana in quest of the vessel 
of Alvaro de la Cerda, and, after taking in 
some supplies, to come after us again. 

After the brigantine left we again pene- 
trated inland, the same persons as before, 

with some more men. We followed the 



shore of the bay, and, after a march of four 
leagues, captured four Indians, to whom we 
showed maize in order to find out if they 
knew it, for until then we had seen no trace 
of it. They told us that they would take us 
to a place where there was maize and they 
led us to their village, at the end of the bay 
nearby, and there they showed us some that 
was not yet fit to be gathered. There we 
found many boxes for merchandize from 
Castilla. In every one of them was a corpse 
covered with painted deer hides. The com- 
missary thought this to be some idolatrous 
practice, so he burnt the boxes with the 
corpses. We also found pieces of linen and 
cloth, and feather head dresses that seemed 
to be from New Spain, and samples of gold. 
We inquired of the Indians (by signs) 
whence they had obtained these things and 
they gave us to understand that, very far 
from there, was a province called Apalachen 
in which there was much gold.* They also 

*There is a discrepancy here between the state- 
ment of Cabeza de Vaca and the Letter to the 
Audiencia. The latter says (Historia, &c., Ill, 
P- 583) : "And there they found some large boxes 
from Castilla, and in each of them a dead man, 
and the corpses covered with painted hides. It 



signified to us that in that province we 
would find everything we held in esteem. 
They said that in Apalachen there was 

So, taking them as guides, we started, and 
after walking ten or twelve leagues, came 
to another village of fifteen houses, where 
there was a large cultivated patch of corn 

appeared to the Commissary and friars that these 
were idolatries, so the Governor had them burnt. 
There were also found pieces of shoes and canvas 
(lienzo), of cloth and some iron, and inquiring 
of the Indians they told us by signs that they had 
found it in a vessel that had been lost on this 
coast and in that bay." 

The text of Oviedo discriminates between the 
origin of these objects and that of the gold, which 
it says the Indians declared that there was none 
in the country, but at Apalache, very far away. 
The first edition always has either Apalachen or 
Palachen. Oviedo (p. 615) justly blames the 
friars for having burnt the bodies: "Since the 
boxes and other indications might have led them 
to think that they were the bodies of Qiristians, 
and so it is stated in the second relation, that they 
learned from Indians that these dead people had 
been Christians." The Relacion (p. 270) men- 
tions briefly the bodies, and also states that gold 
was found in the province of Apalache. 

The shipwreck mentioned may allude to the 
loss, in 1526, of one of the two vessels in which 
Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon made his unlucky 
voyage to Chicora. This vessel was lost at the 
mouth of the "Rio Jordon" Herrera (Historia 
general, &c., 1726, Vol. II, p. 242, Decada III, 
Lib. VII, Cap. XIII). Still, this is conjectural 
and requires special investigation, which does not 
enter into the scope of these notes. 



nearly ready for harvest, and also some 
that was already ripe. After staying there 
two days, we returned tO' the place where we 
had left the purser, the men and the vessels, 
and told the purser and pilots what we saw 
and the news the Indians had given us. 

The next day, which was the ist of May, 
the Governor took aside the commissary, the 
purser, the inspector, myself, a sailor called 
Bartolome Fernandez and a notary by the 
name of Jeronimo de Albaniz, and told us 
that he had in mind to penetrate inland, 
while the vessels should follow the coast as 
far as the harbor; since the pilots said and 
believed that, if they went in the direction 
of the Palms they would reach it soon. On 
this he asked us to give our opinions. 

I replied that it seemed to me in no man- 
ner advisable to forsake the ships until they 
were in a safe port, held and occupied by 
us. I told him to consider that the pilots 
were at a loss, disagreeing among them- 
selves, undecided as to what course to pur- 
sue. Moreover, the horses would not Be 
with us in case we needed them, and, fur- 
thermore, we had no interpreter to make 



ourselves understood by the natives; hence 
we could have no parley with them. Neither 
did we know what to expect from the land 
we were entering, having no knowledge of 
what it was, what it might contain and by 
what kind of people it was inhabited, nor 
in what part of it we were ; finally, that we 
had not the supplies required for penetrating 
into an unknown country, for of the stores 
left in the ships not more than one pound of 
biscuit and one of bacon could be given as 
rations to each man for the journey, so that, 
in my opinion, we should re-embark and 
sail in quest of a land and harbor better 
adapted to settlement, since the country 
which we had seen was the most deserted 
and the poorest ever found in those parts. 

The commissary was of the contrary 
opinion saying, that we should not embark, 
but follow the coast in search of a harbor, as 
the pilots asserted that the way to Panuco 
was not more than ten or fifteen leagues dis- 
tant and that by following along the coast it 
was impossible to miss it, since the coast 
bent inland for twelve leagues. The first 
ones who came there should wait for the 



others. As to embarking, he said it would 
be to tempt God, after all the vicissitudes of 
storms, losses of men and vessels and hard- 
ships we had suffered since leaving Spain, 
and until we came to that place. So his ad- 
vice would be to move along the coast as far 
as the harbor, while the vessels with the 
other men would follow to the same port. 

To all the others this seemed to be the 
best, except to the notary, who said that be- 
fore leaving the ships they should be put 
into a harbor well known, safe and in a set- 
tled country, after which we might go in- 
land and do as we liked. 

The Governor clung to his own idea and 
to the suggestions of the others. 

Seeing his determination, I required him, 
on the part of Your Majesty, not to forsake 
the vessels until they were in a secure port, 
and I asked the notary present to testify to 
what I said. The Governor replied that he 
approved the opinion of the other officials 
and of the commissary; that I had no au- 
thority for making such demands, and he 
asked the notary to give him a certified 

statement as to how, there not being in the 



country the means for supporting a settle- 
ment, nor any harbor for the ships, he broke 
up the village he had founded, and went in 
search of the port and of a better land. So 
he forthwith ordered the people who were to 
go with him to get ready, providing them- 
selves with what was necessary for the jour- 
ney. After this he turned to me, and told 
me in the presence of all who were there 
that, since I so much opposed the expedition 
into the interior and was afraid of it, I 
should take charge of the vessels and men 
remaining, and, in case I reached the port 
before him, I should settle there. This I 

/ After the meeting was over he, on that 
same evening, saying that it seemed to him 
as if he could not trust anybody, sent me 
word that he begged me to take charge of 
that part of the expedition, and as, in spite 
of his insistency, I declined, he asked for the 
reasons of my refusal, I then told him that I 
refused to accept, because I felt sure he 
would never see the ships again, or be seen 
by their crews any more; that, seeing how 
utterly unprepared he was for moving in- 



land, I preferred to share the risk with him 
and his people, and suffer what they would 
have to suffer, rather than take charge of 
the vessels and thus give occasion for say- 
ing that I opposed the journey and remained 
out of fear, which would place my honor in 
jeopardy. So that I would much rather ex- 
pose of my life than, under these circum- 
stances, my good name. 

Seeing that he could not change my de- 
termination, he had others approach me 
about it with entreaties. But I gave the 
same answer to them as to him, and he 
finally provided for his lieutenant to take 
command of the vessels, ark alcalde named 

N Saturday, the ist of May, the day 

on which all this had happened, he 

ordered that they should give to 

each one of those who had to go with him, 

two pounds of ship-biscuit and one-half 

pound of bacon, and thus we set out upon our 

journey inland. The number of people we 



took along was three hundred,^ among them 
the commissary, Father Juan Xuarez, another 
friar called Father Juan de Palos and three 
priests, the officers, and forty horsemen. We 
marched for fifteen days, living on the sup- 
plies we had taken with us, without finding 
anything else to eat but palmettos like those 
of Andalusia. In all this time we did not 
meet a soul, nor did we see a house or vil- 
lage, and finally reached a river, which we 
crossed with much trouble, by swimming 
and on rafts. It took us a day to ford the 
river on account of the swiftness of its cur- 
rent. When we got across, there came to- 
wards us some two hundred Indians, more 
or less; the Governor went to meet them, 
and after he talked to them by signs they 
acted in such a manner that we were obliged 
to set upon them and seize five or six, who 
took us to their houses, about half a league 
from there, where we found a large quan- 
tity of corn ready for harvest. We gave 
infinite thanks to our Lord for having help- 

''Oviedo (Historia, III, p. 584) says, following 
the Letter to the Audiencia, 260 foot and forty 
horse. The Relacion (p. 270) three hundred men 
and forty men on horseback {"trescientos 
hombres y quarenta hombres de a caballo"). 



ed us in such great need, for, as we were 
not used to such exposures, we felt greatly 
exhausted, and were much weakened by 

On the third day that we were at this 
place the purser, the inspector, the com- 
missary and myself jointly begged the Gov- 
ernor to send out in search of a harbor, as 
the Indians told us the sea was not very far 
away. He forbade us to speak of it, saying 
it was at a great distance, and I being the 
one who most insisted, he bade me to go on 
a journey of discovery and search of a port, 
and said I should go on foot with forty peo- 
ple. So the next day I started with the Cap- 
tain Alonso del Castillo and forty men of his 
company. At noon we reached sandy patches 
that seemed to extend far inland. For about 
one and a half leagues we walked, with the 
water up to the knee, and stepping on shells 
that cut our feet badly. All this gave us 
much trouble, until we reached the river 
which we had crossed first, and which 
emptied through the same inlet, and then, as 
we were too ill-provided for crossing it, 
we turned back to camp and told the Gov- 



ernor what we had found and how it was 
necessary to ford the river again at our first 
crossing in order to explore the inlet thor- 
oughly and find out if there was a harbor. 

The next day he sent a captain called 
Valenzuela with sixty footmen and six 
horsemen to cross the river and follow its 
course to the sea in search of a port. After 
two days he came back, reporting that he 
had discovered the inlet, which was a shal- 
low bay, with water to the knees, but it had 
there no harbor. He saw five or six canoes 
crossing from one side to the other, with 
Indians who wore many feather bushes. 

Hearing this, we left the next day, al- 
ways in quest of the province called Apa- 
lachen by the Indians, taking as guides 
those whom we had captured, and marched 
until the 17th of June without finding 
an Indian who would dare to wait for us. 
Finally there came to us a chief, whom 
an Indian carried on his shoulders. He 
wore a painted deerskin, and many people 
followed him, and he was preceded by many 
players on flutes made of reeds. He came 

to the place where the Governor was and 



stayed an hour. We gave him. to under- 
stand by signs that our aim was to reach 
Apalachen, but from his gestures it seemed 
to us that he was an enemy of the Apalachen 
people and that he would go and help us 
against them. We gave him beads and little 
bells and other trinkets, while he presented 
the Governor with the hide he wore. Then 
he turned back and we followed him. 

That night we reached a broad and deep 
river, the current of which was very strong 
and as we* did not dare to cross it, we built a 
canoe out of rafts and were a whole day in 
getting across. If the Indians had wished 
to oppose us, they could have easily impeded 
our passage, for even with their help we had 
much trouble. Otie horseman, whose name 
was Juan Velazquez, a native of Cuellar, 
not willing to wait, rode into the stream, 
and the strong current swept him from the 
horse and he took hold of the reins, and 
was drowned with the animal. The Indians 
of that chief (whose name was Dulchan- 
chellin) discovered the horse and told us 
that we would find him lower down the 
stream. So they went after the man, and 



his death caused us much grief, since until 
then we had not lost anybody. The horse 
made a supper for many on that night. Be- 
yond there, and on the following day, we 
reached the chief's village, whither he sent 
us corn. 

That same night, as they went for water, 
an arrow was shot at one of the Chris- 
tians, but God willed that he was not 
hurt. The day after we left this place, with- 
out any of the natives having appeared, be- 
cause all had fled, but further on some In- 
dians were seen who showed signs of hos- 
tility, and although we called them they 
would neither come back nor wait, but with- 
drew and followed in our rear. The Gov- 
ernor placed a few horsemen in ambush 
near the trail, who as they (the Indians) 
passed, surprised them* and took three or 
four Indians, whom we kept as guides 
thereafter. These led us into a country diffi- 
cult to traverse and strange to look at, for it 
had very great forests, the trees being won- 
derfully tall and so many of them fallen that 
they obstructed our way so that we had to 
make long detours and with great trouble. 



Of the trees standing many were rent from 
top to bottom by thunderbolts, which strike 
very often in that country, where storms ami 
tempests are always frequent. 

With such efforts we travelled until the 
day after St. John's Day, when we came 
in sight of Apalachen, without having been 
noticed by the Indians of the land. We gave 
many thanks to God for being so near it, 
believing what we had been told about the 
country to be true, and that now our suffer- 
ings would come to an end after the long 
and weary march over bad trails. We had 
also suffered greatly from hunger, for, al- 
though we found corn occasionally, most of 
the time we marched seven or eight leagues 
without any. And many there were among 
us who besides suffering great fatigue and 
hunger, had their backs covered with 
wounds from the weight of the armor and 
other things they had to carry as occasion 
required. But to find ourselves at last where 
we wished to be and where we had been 
assured so much food and gold would be 
had, made us forget a great deal of our 

hardships and weariness. 



ONCE in sight of Apalachen,® the 
Goyemor commanded me to enter 
the village with nine horsemen and 
fifty foot. So the inspector and I undertookr 
this. Upon penetrating into the village we 
found only women and boys. The men were 
not there at the time, but soon, while we 
were walking about, they came and began to- 
fight, shooting arrows at us. They killed. 
the inspector's horse, but finally fled and: 
left us. We found there plenty of ripe 
maize ready to be gathered and much dry 
corn already housed. We also found many" 
deer skins and among them mantles made of 
thread and of poor quality, with which the- 
women cover parts of their bodies. They 
had many vessels for grinding maize.'' The^ 
village contained forty small and low 

•This Indian village seems to have been situated 
west of the peninsula of Florida, not far from the 
coast. Without presuming to insist upon its loca- 
tion, I would only remark that it might have been 
on or near what is now the Apalachicola river.. 
At least, the French map accompanying the His- 
torical Collections of Louisiana (Part II, 185, 
1850) has: "Apalaches. Ici etaient ci-devant les 

^The text says: "Tenian muchos vasos parar. 
moler mais." This seems to indicate mortars. 



houses,® reared in sheltered places, out of 
fear of the great storms that continuously 
occur iruthe country. The buildings are of 
straw, and they are surrounded by dense 
timber, tall trees and numerous water-pools, 
ivhere there were so many fallen trees and 
of such size as to greatly obstruct and im- 
pede circulation. 

THE countr}^ between our landing 
place and the village and country of 
Apalachen is mostly level; the soil 
is sand and earth. All throughout it there 
are very large trees and open forests con- 
taining nut trees, laurels and others of the 
kind called resinous, cedar, juniper, water- 
oak, pines, oak and low palmetto, like those 
of Castilla.^ Everywhere there are many 

'I use the word "house'* here, but I shall here- 
after prefer the term of "lodge." It is more in 
harmony with the character of the frail construc- 
tions which he describes. Later on, when Cabeza 
de Vaca alludes to more substantial structures, I 
shall again employ the term "house." In general, 
"casa" in Spanish means house, dwelling, home, 
abode, &c. 

®The original has: "Donde hay nogales y lau- 
reles y otros que se llaman liquid-dmbares, 
cedros sahinos y encinas y pinos y rohles, palmitos 
bajos, de la manera de los de Castilla." Luquid- 
dmbar is the product of a species of the Mexican 
pine, besides being amber proper. 



lagunes, large and small, some very difficult 
to cross, partly because they are so deep, 
partly because they are covered with fallen 
trees. Their bottom is sandy, and in the 
province of Apalachen the lagunes are much 
larger than those we found previously. 
There is much maize in this province and 
the houses are scattered all over the country 
as much as those of the Gelves. The ani- 
mals we saw there were three kinds of deer, 
rabbits and hares, bears and lions and other 
wild beasts, among them one that carries its 
young in a pouch on its belly as long as the 
young are small, until they are able to look 
for their sustenance, and even then, when 
they are out after food and people come, the 
mother does not move until her little ones 
are in the pouch again. The country is very 
cold ;^^ it has good pasture for cattle ; there 
are birds of many kinds in large numbers: 
geese, ducks, wild ducks, muscovy ducks, 
Ibis, small white herons (Egrets), herons 
and partridges. We saw many fal- 
cons, marsh-hawks, sparrow-hawks, pigeon- 

"It is somewhat puzzling to read this, since it 
was midsummer when Narvaez reached Apa- 



hawks and many other birds." Two hours 
after we arrived at Apalachen the Indians 
that had fled came back peaceably, begging 
us to give back to them their women and 
children, which we did.^^ The Governor, 
however, kept with him one of their ca- 
ciques, at which they became so angry as to 
attack us the following day. They did it so 
swiftly and with so much audacity as to set 
fire to the lodges we occupied, but when we 
sallied forth they fled to the lagunes nearby, 
on account of which and of the big com 
patches, we could not do them any harm^ 
beyond killing one Indian. The day after, 
Indians from a village on the other side 
came and attacked us in the same manner, 
escaping in the same way, with the loss of 
a single man. 

We remained at this village for twenty- 

^^"Hay aves de muchas maneras, ansares en 
gran cantidad, pasos, dnades, patos re ales, dor ales 
y garsotas y garzaSj.perdices ; vinws muchos hal- 
cones, nehlis, gavilanes, esmorejanes, y otras 
muchas aves." The "dorales" are ibis, the ''ne- 
bli" corresponds to the marsh-hawk, and the 
nearest approach to the "esmorejan" might be 
the pigeon-hawk, perhaps. The "garzoia" is the 

^^To return the non-combatants to the Indians 
was not very wise, and shows that Narvaez and 
his officers had little knowledge of Indian nature. 


five days, making three excursions dur- 
ing the time. We found the country 
very thinly inhabited and difficult to march 
through, owing to bad places, timber 
and lagunes. We inquired of the cacique 
whom we had retained and of the other In- 
dians with us (who were neighbors and 
enemies of them) about the condition and 
settlements of the land, the quality of its 
people, about supplies and everything else. 
They answered, each one for himself, that 
Apalachen was the largest town of all ; that 
further in less people were met with, who 
were very much poorer than those here, and 
that the country was thinly settled, the in- 
habitants greatly scattered, and also that 
further inland big lakes, dense forests, great 
deserts and wastes were met with. 

Then we asked about the land to the souths 
its villages and resources. They said that in 
that direction and nine days' march towards 
the sea was a village called Aute,^^ where 
the Indians had plenty of corn and also 
beans and melons, and that, being so near 

"On the map in Louisiana historical collections, 
already mentioned, Aute, is placed near the mouth 
of the Apalachicola river. 



the sea, they obtained fish, and that those 
were their friends. Seeing how poor the 
country was, taking into account the un- 
favorable reports about its population and 
everything else, and that the Indians made 
constant war upon us, wounding men and 
horses whenever they went for water 
(which they could do from the lagunes 
where we could not reach them) by shoot- 
ing arrows at us; that they had killed a 
chief of Tezcuco called Don Pedro, whom 
the commissary had taken along with him, 
we agreed to depart and go in search of the 
sea, and of the village of Aute, which they 
had mentioned. And so we left, arriving 
there five days after. The first day we 
travelled across lagunes and trails without 
seeing a single Indian. 

On the second day, however, we reached 
a lake very difficult to cross, the water 
reaching to the chest, and there were a great 
many fallen trees. Once in the middle of 
it, a number of Indians assailed us from 
behind trees that concealed them from our 
sight, while others were on fallen trees, and 

they began to shower arrows upon us, so 



that many men and horses were wounded, 
and before we could get out of the lagune 
our guide was captured by them. After we 
had got out, they pressed us very hard, in- 
tending to cut us off, and it was useless to 
turn upon them, for they would hide in the 
lake and from there wound both men and 

So the Governor ordered the horsemen 
to dismount and attack them on foot. The 
pursuer dismounted also, and our people at- 
tacked them. Again they fled to a lagune, 
and we succeeded in holding the trail. In 
this fight some of our people were wounded, 
in spite of their good armor. There were 
men that day who swore they had seen two 
oak trees, each as thick as the calf of a leg, 
shot through and through by arrows, which 
is not surprising if we consider the force 
and dexterity with which they shoot. I 
myself saw an arrow that had penetrated 
the base of a poplar tree for half a foot in 
length. All the many Indians from Florida 
we saw were archers, and, being very tall 
and naked, at a distance they appear giants. 

Those people are wonderfully built, very 


";gaunt and of great strength and agility. 
Their bows are as thick as an arm, from 
eleven to twelve spans long, shooting an ar- 
row at 200 paces with unerring aim. From 
that crossing we went to another similar 
one, a league away, but while it was half a 
league in length it was also much more diffi- 
cult. There we crossed without opposition, 
for the Indians, having spent all their ar- 
rows at the first place, had nothing where- 
with they would dare attack us. The next 
day, while crossing a similar place, I saw 
the tracks of people who went ahead of us, 
and I notified the Governor, who was in the 
rear, so that, although the Indians turned 
upon us, as we were on our guard, they 
could do us no harm. Once on open ground 
they pursued us still. We attacked them 
twice, killing two, while they wounded me 
and two or three other Christians, and en- 
tered the forest again, where we could no 
longer injure them. 

In this manner we marched for eight 
days, without meeting any more natives, 
tmtil one league from the site to which 

I said we were going. There, as we 



were marching along, Indians crept up un^ 
seen and fell upon our rear. A boy be- 
longing to a nobleman, called Avellaneda, 
who was in the rear guard, gave the alarm. 
Avellaneda turned back to assist, and the 
Indians hit him with an arrow on the edge 
of the cuirass, piercing his neck nearly- 
through and through, so that he died on the 
spot, and we carried him to Aute. It took 
us nine days from Apalachen to the place 
where we stopped,^* And then we found 
that all the people had left and the lodges 
were burnt. But there was plenty of maize, 
squash and beans, all nearly ripe and ready 
for harvest. We rested there for two 

After this the Governor entreated me to 
go in search of the sea, as the Indians said 
it was so near by, and we had, on this 
inarch, already suspected its proximity from 
a great river to which we had given the 
name of the Rio de la Magdalena}^ I left 

"Oviedo, p. 587, has eight or nine days. On 
p. 586 he says they stayed 26 days at Apalachen, 
instead of 25, as Cabeza de Vaca. 

"This may have been the Apalachicola, accord- 
ing to the French map. 


on the following day in search of it, accom- 
panied by the commissary, the captain Cas- 
tillo, Andres Dorantes, seven horsemen and 
fifty foot. We marched until sunset, reach- 
ing an inlet or arm of the sea, where we 
found plenty of oysters on which the peo- 
ple feasted, and we gave many thanks ta 
God for bringing us there. 

The next day I sent twenty men to 
reconnoiter the coast and explore it, who 
returned on the day following at night- 
fall, saying that these inlets and bays 
v/ere very large and went so far in- 
land as greatly to impede our investiga- 
tions, and that the coast was still at a great 
distance. Hearing this and considering 
how ill-prepared we were for the task, I re- 
turned to where the Governor was. We 
found him sick, together with many others. 
The night before, Indians had made an at- 
tack, putting them in great stress, owing to 
their enfeebled condition. The Indians had 
also killed one of their horses. I reported 
upon my journey and on the bad condition 
of the country. That day we remained 



N the next day we left Aute and 
marched (all day) to the spot I had 
visited on my last exploration. Our 
march was extremely difficult, for neither 
had we horses enough to carry the sick, nor 
did we know how to relieve them. They 
became worse every day, and our sufferings 
were afflicting. There it became manifest 
how few resources we had for going fur- 
ther, and even in case we had been provided 
we did not know where to go ; our men were 
mostly sick and too much out of condition 
to be of any use whatever. I refrain from 
making a long story of it. Any one can 
imagine what might be experienced in a 
land so strange and so utterly without re- 
sources of any kind, either for stay or for 
an escape. Nevertheless, since the surest 
aid was God, Our Lord, and since we never 
doubted of it, something happened that put 
lis in a worse plight yet. 

Most of the horsemen began to leave 
in secret, hoping thus to save them- 



selves, forsaking the Governor and the 
sick, who were helpless.^^ Still, as among* 
them were many of good families and 
of rank, they would not suffer this to 
happen unbeknown to the Governor and 
Your Majesty's officials, so that, when we 
remonstrated, showing at v/hat an unseason- 
able time they were leaving their captain 
and the sick and, above all, forsaking Your 
Majesty's service, they concluded to stay, 
and share the fate of all, without abandon- 
ing one another. The Governor thereupon 
called them to his presence all together, and 
each one in particular, asking their opinion 
about this dismal country, so as to be able to 
get out of it and seek relief, for in that land 
there was none. 

One-third of our people were danger- 
ously ill, getting worse hourly, and we 
felt sure of meeting the same fate, 
with death as our only prospect, which in 
such a country was much worse yet. And 
considering these and many other incon- 
veniences and that we had tried many ex- 
pedients, we finally resorted to a very diffi- 

"Of this planned desertion Oviedo says nothing. 


cult one, which was to build some craft in 
which to leave the land. It seemed impossi- 
ble, as none of us knew how to construct 
ships. We had no tools, no iron, no smith- 
ery, no oakum, no pitch, no tackling; finally, 
nothing of what was indispensable. Neither 
was there anybody to instruct us in ship- 
building, and, above all, there was nothing 
to cat, while the work was going on, for 
those who would have to perform the task. 
Considering all this, we agreed to think it 
over. Our parley ceased for that day, and 
everyone went off, leaving it to God, Our 
Lord, to put him on the right road accord- 
ing to His pleasure. 

The next day God provided that one 
of the men should come, saying that he 
would make wooden flues, and bellows 
of deerskin, and as we were in such 
a state that anything appearing like relief 
seem.ed acceptable, we told him to go to 
work, and agreed to make of our stirrups, 
spurs, cross-bows and other iron imple- 
ments the nails, saws and hatchets and 
other tools we so greatly needed for our 


In order to obtain food while the work pro- 
posed was in progress we determined upon 
four successive raids into Aute, with all the 
horses and men that were fit for service, and 
that on every third day a horse should be 
killed and the meat distributed among those 
who worked at the barges and among the 
sick. The raids were executed with such 
people and horses as were able, and they 
brought as many as four hundred fanegas of 
maize, although not without armed opposi- 
tion from the Indians. We gathered plenty of 
palmettos, using their fibre and husk, twist- 
ing and preparing it in place of oakum for 
the barges. The work on these was done by 
the only carpenter we had, and progressed so 
rapidly that, beginning on the fourth day 
of August, on the twentieth day of the 
month of September^^ five barges of twenty- 
two elbow lengths each were ready, caulked 
v/ith palmetto oakum and tarred with pitch, 
which a Greek called Don Teodoro made 
from certain pines. Of the husk of pal- 

"The latter date is also in Oviedo (p. 588), 
but not in Relacion; but the estimate of the dis- 
tances is of little importance. It is a computation 
of the length of the line of march, not the dis- 
tance between two points. 



mettos, and of the tails and manes of the 
horses we made ropes and tackles, of 
our shirts sails, and of the junipers that 
grew there we made the oars, which we 
thought were necessary, and such was 
the stress in which our sins had placed us 
that only with very great trouble could 
we find stones for ballast and anchors 
of the barges, for we had not seen a 
stone in the whole country. We flayed 
the legs of the horses and tanned the skin 
to make leather pouches for carrying 

During that time some of. the party went 
to the coves and inlets for sea-food, and 
the Indians surprised them twice, kill- 
ing ten of our men in plain view of the 
-camp, without our being able to prevent it. 
We found them shot through and through 
with arrows, for, although several wore 
good armor, it was not sufficient to protect 
them, since, as I said before, they shot their 
arrows with such force and precision. Ac- 
cording to the sworn statements of our 
pilots, w^e had travelled from the bay, to 

which we gave the name of the Cross, ta 



this place, two hundred and eighty leagues, 
more or less. 

In all these parts we saw no mountains 
nor heard of any, and before embarking we 
had lost over forty men through sickness 
and hunger, besides those killed by Indians. 
On the twenty-second day of the month 
of September we had eaten up all the 
horses but one. We embarked in the 
following order: In the barge of the 
Governor there were forty-nine men, and 
as many in the one entrusted to the 
purser and the commissary. The third 
barge he placed in charge of Captain Alonso 
del Castillo and of Andres Dorantes, with 
forty-eight men; in another he placed two- 
captains, named Tellez and Penalosa, with 
forty-seven men. The last one he gave to 
the inspector and to me, with forty-nine 
men, and, after clothing and supplies were 
put on board, the sides of the barges only 
rose half a foot above the water. Besides, 
we were so crowded as to be unable to stir. 
So great is the power of need that it 
brought us to venture out into such a trou- 
blesome sea in this manner, and without 



any one among us having the least knowl- 
edge of the art of navigation. 

THAT bay from which we started is 
called the Bay of the Horses. We 
sailed seven days among those in- 
lets, in the water waist deep, without signs 
of anything like the coast. At the end of 
this time we reached an island near the 
shore. My barge went ahead, and from it 
we saw five Indian canoes coming. The 
Indians abandoned them and left them in 
our hands, when they saw that we approach- 
ed. The other barges went on and saw 
some lodges on the same island, where we 
found plenty of ruffs and their eggs, dried, 
and that was a very great relief in our needy 
condition. Having taken them, we went 
further, and two leagues beyond found a 
strait between the island and the coast, 
which strait we christened Sant Miguel, it 
being the day of that saint. Issuing from 
it we reached the coast, where by means of 
the five canoes I had taken from the Indians 
we mended somewhat the barges, making 



washboards and adding to them and raising" 
the sides two hands above water. 

Then we set out to sea again, coast- 
ing towards the River of Palms.^* Every 
<iay our thirst and hunger increased be- 
cause our supplies were giving out, as 
well as the water supply, for the pouches 
we had made from the legs of our 
liorses soon became rotten and useless. 
From time to time we would enter some 
Inlet or cove that reached very far inland, 
but we found them all shallow and danger- 
ous, and so we navigated through them for 
thirty days, meeting sometimes Indians who 
fished and were poor and wretched people. 

At the end of these thirty days, and when 
"we were in extreme need of water and hug- 
ging the coast, we heard one night a canoe 
approaching. When we saw it we stopj>ed 

*This "Rio de las Palmas" is frequently men- 
tioned in the oldest sources on Florida and north- 
■eastern Mexico, (See, concerning it, the expe- 
dition of De Soto in "Trail-Makers.") The map 
Tby Brevoort identifies the "Rio de las Palmas" 
■with the Rio Grande. The mouth of the Palmas 
is stated to have been sixty leagues above (north) 
of that of the Panuco river. This, as well as the 
statement repeatedly found in older documents, 
that from the river of Palms the coast turns to 
the south, whereas from Florida on it ran from 
'east to west, favors the assumption. 



and waited, but it would not come to us, 
and, although we called out, it would neither 
turn back nor wait. It being night, we did 
not follow the canoe, but proceeded. At 
dawn we saw a small island, where we 
touched to search for water, but in vain, as 
there was none. While at anchor a great 
storm overtook us. We remained there six 
days without venturing to leave, and it be- 
ing five days since we had drank anything 
our thirst was so great as to compel us to 
drink salt water, and several of us took such 
an excess of it that we lost suddenly five 

I tell this briefly, not thinking it necessary 
to relate in particular all the distress and 
hardships we bore. Moreover, if one takes 
into account the place we were in and the 
slight chances of relief he may imagine 
what we suffered. Seeing that our thirst 
was increasing and the water was killing us, 
while the storm did not abate, we agreed to 
trust to God, Our Lord, and rather risk the 
perils of the sea than wait there for certain 
death from thirst. So we left in the direc- 
tion we had seen the canoe going on the 



night we came here. During this day we 
found ourselves often on the verge of 
•drowning and so forlorn that there was 
none in our company who did not expect to 
<iie at any moment. 

It was Our Lord's pleasure, who many 
a time shows His favor in the hour 
of greatest distress, that at sunset we 
turned a point of land and found there 
shelter and much improvement. Many 
canoes came and the Indians in them spoke 
to us, but turned back without waiting. 
They were tall and well built, and carried 
neither bows nor arrows. We followed 
them to their lodges, which were nearly 
along the inlet, and landed, and in front of 
the lodges we saw many jars with water, 
and great quantities of cooked fish. The 
chief of that land offered all to the Governor 
and led him to his abode. The dwellings 
were of matting and seemed to be perma- 
nent. When we entered the home of the 
chief he gave us plenty of fish, while we 
gave him of our maize, which they ate in 
our presence, asking for more. So we gave 
more to them, and the Governor presented 



him with some trinkets. While with the 
cacique at his lodge, half an hour after sun- 
set, the Indians suddenly fell upon us and 
upon our sick people on the beach. 

Theyalso attacked the house of the cacique, 

where the Governor was, wounding him in 

the face with a stone. Those who were with 

him seized the cacique, but as his people 

were so near he escaped, leaving in our 

hands a robe of marten-ermine skin, which, 

I believe, are the finest in the world and 

give out an odor like amber and musk. A 

single one can be smelt so far off that it 

seems as if there were a great many. We 

saw more of that kind, but none like these. 

Those of us who were there, seeing the 

Governor hurt, placed him aboard the barge 

and provided that most of the men should 

follow him to the boats. Some fifty of us 

remained on land to face the Indians, who 

attacked thrice that night, and so furiously 

as to drive us back every time further than 

a strone's throw. 

Not one of us escaped unhurt. I was 
wounded in the face, and if they had 
had more arrows (for only a few were 



found) without any doubt they would have 
done us great harm. At the last onset 
the Captains Dorantes, Pefialosa and Tellez, 
with fifteen men, placed themselves in am- 
bush and attacked them from the rear, caus- 
ing them to flee and leave us. The next 
morning I destroyed more than thirty of 
their canoes, which served to protect us 
against a northern wind then blowing, on 
account of which we had to stay there, in 
the severe cold, not venturing out to sea on 
account of the heavy storm. After this we 
again embarked and navigated for three 
days, having taken along but a small supply 
of water, the vessels we had for it being 
few. So we found ourselves in the same 
plight as before. 

Continuing onward, we entered a firth 
and there saw a canoe with Indians ap- 
proaching. As we hailed them they came, 
and the Governor, whose barge they neared 
first, asked them for water. They offered 
to get some, provided we gave them 
something in which to carry it, and a 
Christian Greek, called Doroteo Teodoro 

(who has already been mentioned), said he 



would go with them. The Governor and 
others vainly tried to dissuade him, but he 
insisted upon going and went, taking along- 
a negro, while the Indians left two of their 
number as hostages. At night the Indians 
returned and brought back our vessels, but 
without water; neither did the Christians 
return with them. Those that had remained 
as hostages, when their people spoke to* 
them, attempted to throw themselves into 
the water. But our men in the barge held 
them backj and so the other Indians forsook 
their canoe, leaving us very despondent and 
sad for the loss of those two Christians. 

IN the morning many canoes of Indiana 
came, demanding their two compan- 
ions, who had remained in the barge 
as hostages. The Governor answered that 
he would give them up, provided they re- 
turned the two Christians. With those peo- 
ple there came five or six chiefs, who seemed 
to us to be of better appearance, greater 
authority and manner of composure than 
any we had yet seen, although not as tall as 



those of whom we have before spoken. They 
wore the hair loose and very long, and were 
clothed in robes of marten, of the kind we 
had obtained previously, some of them done 
up in a very strange fashion, because they 
showed patterns of fawn-colored furs that 
looked very well. 

They entreated us to go with them, and 
said that they would give us the Christians, 
water and many other things, and more 
canoes kept coming towards us, trying to 
block the mouth of that inlet, and for this 
reason, as well as because the land appeared 
very dangerous to remain in, we took again 
to sea, where we stayed with them till noon. 
And as they would not return the Chris- 
tians, and for that reason neither would we 
give up the Indians, they began to throw 
stones at us with slings, and darts, threaten- 
ing to shoot arrows, although we did not see 
more than three or four bows. 

While thus engaged the wind freshened 
and they turned about and left us. We navi- 
gated that day until nightfall, when my 
bark, which was the foremost, discovered a 

promontory made by the coast. At the other 



end was a very large river, and at a small 
island on the point I anchored to wait for 
the other barges. 

The Governor did not want to touch, but 
entered a bay close by, where there 
were many small islands. There we got 
together and took fresh water out of the 
sea, because the river emptied into it like a 

For two days we had eaten the corn 
raw, and now, in order to toast it, we 
went ashore on that island, but not find- 
ing any firewood, agreed to go to the river, 
which was one league from there behind the 
point. However, the current was so strong 
that it in no way allowed us to land, but 
rather carried us away from the shore 
against all our efforts. The north wind that 
blew off shore freshened so much that it 
drove us back to the high sea, without our 
being able to do anything against it, and at 
about one-half league from shore we sound- 
ed and found no bottom even at thirty fath- 
oms. Without being able to understand it, 
it was the current that disturbed our sound- 
ings. We navigated two days yet, trying 



hard to reach the shore. On the third day, 
a little before sunrise, we saw many col- 
umns of smoke rising on the coast. Work- 
ing towards these, we found ourselves 
in three fathoms of water, but it being 
night did not dare to land because, as 
we had seen so much smoke, we believed 
that greater danger might be in wait 
for us there. We were unable to see, 
owing to the darkness, what we should 
do. So we determined to wait until 

When it dawned the barges had been 
driven apart from each other. I found 
myself in thirty fathoms and, drifting 
along at the hour of vespers, I descried 
two barges, and as I approached saw 
that the first one was that of the Gov- 
ernor, who asked me what I thought we 
should do. I told him that we ought to re- 
join the other barge, which was ahead of us, 
and in no manner forsake her, and the three 
together should continue our way whither 
God might take us. He replied it was im- 
possible, since the barge was drifting far 

away into the sea, whereas he wanted to 



land, but that if I wished to follow I should 
put the people of my barge at the oars and 
work hard, as only by the strength of our 
arms the land could be reached. In this he 
bad been advised by a captain he had along, 
whose name was Pantoja, who told him that 
if he did not land that day he would not in 
six days more, during which time we would 
of necessity starve. 

Seeing his determination, I took to my 
own oar and the other oarsmen in my 
craft did the same, and thus we rowed 
until nearly sunset. But as the Governor 
liad with him the healthiest and strong- 
est men, in no way coald we follow or 
keep up with him. Seeing this, I asked him 
to give me a rope from his barge to be able 
to follow, but he answered that it was no 
small effort on their part alone to reach the 
shore on that night. I told him that since it 
was barely possible for us to follow and do 
what he had ordained, he should tell me 
what he commanded me to do. He an- 
swered that this was no time for orders; 
that each one should do the best he could to 
save himself ; that he intended to do it that 



way, and with this he went on with his 

As I could not follow him, I went after 
the other barge, which was out at sea and 
waited for me, and reaching it I found it 
was the one of the Captains Penalosa and 
Tellez. We travelled together for four days,, 
our daily ration being half a handful of 
raw maize. At the end of these four days 
a storm overtook us, in which the other 
barge was lost.^^ God's great mercy pre- 
served us from being drowned in that 

It being winter and the cold very great, 
and as we had been suffering so many days 
from hunger and from the injuries we re- 
ceived from the waves, that the next day 
people began to break down, so that when 

'^'The conduct of Narvaez is justly criticised by 
Oviedo (Vol. Ill, p. 590). The Letter to the 
Audiencia mentions it, and Relacion (p. 275) al- 
ludes to it simply. 

'^Relacion (p. 275) mentions the loss of the 
barge of Tellez and Penalosa. The text of Ovi- 
edo (III, p. 590) is quite different. What Cabeza 
de Vaca states happened four days after the meet- 
ing ; the Letter to the Audiencia refers to the day 
immediately after. It barely alludes to the loss 
of the barge of Penalosa, &c. This discrepancy 
seems to have escaped Oviedo himself, since he 
does not speak of it in Chapter VII (p. 614, &c.). 



the sun set all those aboard of my barge had 
fallen in a heap and were so near dying that 
few remained conscious, and not five men 
kept on their feet. 

.. When night came the skipper and I were 
the only ones able to manage the barge. 
Two hours after nightfall the skipper told 
me to steer the craft alone, since he felt that 
he would die that same night. Thereupon 
I stood at the helm, and after midnight went 
to see if the skipper was dead, but he said 
that, on the contrary, he felt better and 
would steer till daybreak. On that occasion 
I would have hailed death with delight 
rather than to see so many people around 
me in such a condition. After the skipper 
had taken the barge under his control I 
went to rest, very much without resting, for 
I thought of anything else but sleep. 

Near daybreak I fancied to hear the sound 
of breakers, for as the coast was low, their 
noise was greater. Surprised at it, I called 
the skipper, who said he thought we were 
near the shore. Sounding, we found seven 
fathoms, and he was of the opinion that we 
should keep off shore till dawn. So I took 



the oar and rowed along the coast, from 
which we were one league away, and turned 
the stem to seaward. 

Qose to shore a wave took us and 
hurled the barge a horse's length out of 
water. With the violent shock nearly all 
the people who lay in the boat like 
dead came to themselves, and, seeing we 
were close to land, began to crawl out on all 
fours. As they took to some rocks, we built 
a fire and toasted some of our maize. We 
found rain water, and with the warmth of 
the fire people revived and began to cheer 
up. The day we arrived there was the sixtH 
of the month of November. 

AFTER the people had eaten I sent: 
Lope de Oviedo, who was the 
strongest and heartiest of all, to go 
to some trees nearby and climb to the top 
of one, examine the surroundings and the 
country in which we were. He did so and 
found we were on an island, and that the 
ground was hollowed out, as if cattle had 
gone over it, from which it seemed to him 



that the land belonged to Christians, and so 
he told us. I sent him again to look and 
examine more closely if there were any- 
worn trails, and not to go too far so as not 
to run into danger. He went, found a foot- 
path, followed it for about one-half league, 
and saw several Indian huts which stood 
empty because the Indians had gone out into 
the field." 

He took away a cooking pot, a little dag 
and a few ruffs and turned back, but as he 
■ seemed to delay I sent two other Christians 
to look for him and find out what had hap- 

They met him nearby and saw that 
three Indians, with bows and arrows, were 
following and calling to him, while he did 
the same to them by signs. So he 
came to where we were, the Indians re- 
maining behind, seated on the beach. Half 
an hour after a hundred Indian archers 
joined them, and our fright was such that, 
whether tall or little, it made them appear 

"The word "campo" means literally field, but 
in the present instance may as well apply to the 
surrounding country in general, whether level or 
accidented, wooded or a grassy plain. The idea 
of cultivated land is, of course excluded. 



giants to us. They stood still close to the 
first ones, near where we were. 

We could not dfefend ourselves, as there 
were scarcely three of us who could stand oa 
their feet. The inspector and I stepped for- 
ward and called them. They came, and we 
tried to quiet them the best we could and 
save ourselves, giving them beads and bells. 
Each one of them gave me an arrow in token 
of friendship, and by signs they gave us to 
understand that on the following morning 
they would come back with food, as then 
they had none. 

THE next day, at sunrise, which was 
the hour the Indians had given us 
to understand, they came as prom- 
ised and brought us plenty of fish and some 
roots which they eat that taste like nuts, 
some bigger, some smaller, most of which 
are taken out of the water with much 

In the evening they returned and brought 

us more fish and some of the same roots, 



and they brought their women and childrea 
to look at us. They thought themselves 
very rich with the little bells and beads we 
gave them, and thereafter visited us daily 
with the same things as before. As we saw 
ourselves provided with fish, roots, water 
and the other things we had asked for, we 
concluded to embark again and continue our 
voyage. n| 

We lifted the barge out of the sand into 
which it had sunk (for which purpose 
we all had to take off our clothes) and had 
great work to set her afloat, as our condi^ 
tion was such that much lighter things 
would have given us trouble. 

Then we embarked. Two crossbow shots 
from shore a wave swept over us, we all got 
wet, and being naked and the cold very 
great, the oars dropped out of our hands. 
The next wave overturned the barge. The 
inspector and two others clung to her to 
save themselves, but the contrary happened ; 
they got underneath the barge and were 

The shore being very rough, the sea took 
the others and thrust them, half dead, on the 



l)each of the same island again, less the three 
that had perished underneath the barge. 

The rest of us, as naked as we had been 
t)om, had lost everything, and while it was 
not worth much, to us it meant a great 
deal, it was m November, bitterly cold, 
and we in such a state that every bone 
could easily be counted, and we looked like 
■death itself. Of myself I can say that since 
the month of May I had not tasted anything 
but toasted maize, and even sometimes had 
been obliged to eat it raw. Although the 
liorses were killed during the time the 
barges were built, I never could eat of them, 
and not ten times did I taste fish. This I 
say in order to explain and that any one 
might guess how we were off. On top of 
all this, a north wind arose, so that we were 
nearer death than life. It pleased Our Lord 
that, searching for the remnants of our for- 
mer fire, we found wood with which we 
built big fires and then with many tears 
begged Our Lord for mercy and forgiveness 
of our sins. Every one of us pitied not only 
himself, but all the others whom he saw in 

the same condition. 



At sunset the Indians, thinking" we had 
not left, came to bring us food, but 
when they saw us in such a different 
attire from before and so strange-looking, 
they were so frightened as to turn back, 
I went to call them, and in great fear 
they came. I then gave them to understand 
by signs how we had lost a barge and three 
of our men had been drowned, while before 
them there lay two of our men dead, with 
the others about to go the same way. 

Upon seeing the disaster we had suffered^ 
our misery and distress, the Indians sat 
down with us and all began to weep out of 
compassion for our misfortune, and for 
more than half an hour they wept so loud 
and so sincerely that it could be heard far 

Verily, to see beings so devoid of reason, 
untutored, so like unto brutes, yet so deeply 
moved by pity for us, it increased my feel- 
ings and those of others in my company for 
our own misfortune. When the lament was 
over, I spoke to the Christians and asked 
them if they would like me to beg the In- 
dians to take us to their homes. Some of 



the men, who had been to New Spain, an- 
swered that it would be unwise, as, once at 
their abode, they might sacrifice us to their 

Still, seeing there was no remedy and 
that in any other way death was surer and 
nearer, I did not mind what they said, 
but begged the Indians to take us to their 
dwellings, at which they showed great 
pleasure, telling us to tarry yet a little, but 
that they would do what we wished. Soon 
thirty of them loaded themselves with fire- 
wood and went to their lodges, which were 
far away, while we stayed with the others 
until it was almost dark. Then they took 
liold of us and carried us along hurriedly to 
where they lived. 

Against the cold, and lest on the way 

some one of us might faint or die, they had 

provided four or five big fires on the road, 

at each one of which they warmed us. As 

soon as they saw we had regained a little 

warmth and strength they would carry us 

to the next fire with such haste that our feet 

tjarely touched the ground. 

So we got to their dwellings, where we 


saw they had built a hut for us with many 
fires in it. About one hour after our arrival 
they began to dance and to make a great cel^ 
ebration (which lasted the whole night), al- 
though there was neither pleasure, feast nor 
sleep in it for us, since we expected to be sac- 
rificed. In the morning they again gave us 
fish and roots, and treated us so well that 
we became reassured, losing somewhat our 
apprehension of being butchered. 

THAT same day I saw on one of the 
Indians a trinket he had not gotten 
from us, and asking from, where 
they had obtained it they answered, by signs, 
that other men like ourselves and who were 
still in our rear, had given it to them. Hear- 
ing this, I sent two Christians with two In- 
dians to guide them to those people. Very 
near by they met them, and they also were 
looking for us, as the Indians had told them 
of our presence in the neighborhood. These 
were the Captains Andres Dorantes and 
Alonso del Castillo, with all of their crew. 

When they came near us they were much 



frightened at our appearance and grieved at 
being unable to give us anything, since they 
had nothing but their clothes. And they 
stayed with us there, telling how, on the 
fifth of that same month, their barge strand- 
ed a league and a half from^ there, and they 
escaped without anything being lost. 

AH together, we agreed upon repairing 
their barge, and that those who had strength 
and inclination should proceed in it, while 
the others should remain until completely re- 
stored and then go as best they could along 
the coast, following it till God would be 
pleased to get us all together to a land of 

So we set to work, but ere the barge 
was afloat Tavera, a gentleman in our com- 
pany, died, while the barge proved not to 
be seaworthy and soon sank. Now, being 
in the condition which I have stated — that 
is, most of us naked and the weather so un- 
favorable for walking and for swimming 
across rivers and coves, and we had neither 
food nor any way to carry it, we determined 
upon submitting to necessity and upon win- 
tering there, and we also agreed that four 



men, who were the most able-bodied, should 
go toPanuco, whichwe believed to be nearby,, 
and that, if it was God, Our Lord's will to 
take them there, they should tell of our re- 
maining on the island and of our distress. 
One of them was a Portuguese, called Al- 
varo Fernandez, a carpenter and sailor ; the 
second was Mendez; the third, Figueroa, a 
native of Toledo; the fourth, Astudillo, 
from Zaf ra. They were all good swimmers 
and took with them an Indian from the 

A FEW days after these four Chris- 
tians had left, the weather became 
so cold and tempestuous that the 
Indians could no longer pull roots, and the 
canebrake in which they used tO' fish yielded 
nothing more. As the lodges afforded so 
little shelter, people began to die, and five 
Christians, quartered on the coast, were 
driven to such an extremity that they ate 
each other up until but one remained, who 
being left alone, there was nobody to eat 
him. Their names are: Sierra, Diego, 



Xx>pez, Corral, Palacios and Gonzalo Ruiz. 
At this the Indians were so startled, and 
there was such an uproar among them, that 
I verily believe if they had seen this at the 
beginning they would have killed them, and 
we all would have been in great danger. 
After a very short time, out of eighty men 
who had come there in our two parties only 
fifteen remained alive. 

Then the natives fell sick from the stom- 
ach, so that one-half of them died also, and 
they, believing we had killed them, and hold- 
ing it to be certain, they agreed among them- 
selves to kill those of us who survived. 

But when they came to execute it an 
Indian who kept me told them not to 
believe we were the cause of their dying, 
for if we had so much power we would 
not have suffered so many of our own 
people to perish without being able to 
remedy it ourselves. He also told them 
there remained but very few of us, and none 
of them did any harm or injury, so that the 
best was to let us alone. It pleased Our 
Lord they should listen to his advice and 
counsel and give up their idea. 



To this island we gave the name of the 
Islcmd of III Fate.^^ The people on it are 
tall and well formed; they have no other 
weapons than bows and arrows with which 
they are most dextrous. The men have one 
of their nipples perforated from side to 
side and sometimes both ; through this hole 
is thrust a reed as long as two and a half 
hands and as thick as two fingers ; they also 
have the under lip perforated and a piece of 
cane in it as thin as the half of a finger. 
The women do the hard work. People stay 
on this island from October till the end of 
February, feeding on the roots I have men- 
tioned, taken from under the water in No- 
vember and December. They have channels 
made of reeds and get fish only during that 
time; afterwards they subsist on roots. At 
the end of February they remove to other 
parts in search of food, because the roots 
begin to sprout and are not good any 

Of all the people in the world, they are 

those who most love their children and treat 

• "In Relacion (p. 277) Cabeza de Vaca says 
the island was called by them "Mai Fondo," 
which seems a misprint. 



them best, and should the child of one of 
them happen to die, parents and relatives 
bewail it, and the whole settlement, the la- 
ment lasting a full year, day after day. Be- 
fore sunrise the parents begin to weep, after 
them the tribe, and the same they do at 
noon and at dawn. At the end of the year 
of mourning they celebrate the anniversary 
and wash and cleanse themselves of all their 
paint. They mourn all their dead in this 
manner, old people excepted, to whom they 
do not pay any attention, saying that these 
have had their time and are no longer of 
any use, but only take space, and food from 
the children. 

Their custom is to bury the dead, ex- 
cept those who are medicine men among 
them, whom they burn, and while the fire 
is burning, all dance and make a big fes- 
tival, grinding the bones to powder. At 
the end of the year, when they celebrate the 
anniversary, they scarify themselves and 
give to the relatives the pulverized bones to 
drink in water. Every man has a recognized 
wife, but the medicine men enjoy greater 

privileges, since they may have two or three, 



and among these wives there is great friend- 
ship and harmony. 

When one takes a woman for his wife, 
from the day he marries her, whatever he 
may hunt or fish, she has to fetch it to the 
home of her father, without daring to touch 
or eat of it, and from the home of the father- 
in-law they bring the food to the husband. 
All the while neither the wife's father nor her 
mother enter his abode, nor is he allowed to 
go to theirs, or to the homes of his brothers- 
in-law, and should they happen to meet they 
go out of each other's way a crossbow's shot 
or so, with bowed heads and eyes cast to 
the ground, holding it to be an evil thing to 
look at each other or speak. The women 
are free to communicate with their parents- 
in-law or relatives and speak to them. This 
custom prevails from that island as far as 
about fifty leagues inland. 

There is another custom, that when a son 
or brother dies no food is gathered by those 
of his household for three months, prefer- 
ring rather to starve, but the relatives and 
neighbors provide them with victuals. Now, 
as during the time we were there so many 



of them died, there was great starvation in 
most of the lodges, due to their customs and 
ceremonials, as well as to the weather, 
which was so rough that such as could go 
out after food brought in but very little, 
withal working hard for it. Therefore the 
Indians by whom I was kept forsook the 
island and in several canoes went over to 
the mainland to some bays where there 
were a great many oysters and during three 
months of the year they do not eat anything 
else and drink very bad water. There is lack 
of firewood, but great abundance of mos- 
quitoes. Their lodges are made of matting 
and built on oyster shells, upon which they 
sleep in hides, which they only get by 
chance. There we remained to the end of 
April, when we went to the seashore, where 
we ate blackberries for a whole month, dur- 
ing which time they danced and celebrated 

ON the island I have spoken of they 
wanted to make medicine men of 
us without any examination or ask- 
ing for our diplomas, because they cure dis- 



eases by breathing on the sick, and with 
that breath and their hands they drive the 
ailment away. So they summoned us to do 
the same in order to be at least of some 
use. We laughed, taking it for a jest, and 
said that we did not understand how to cure. 

Thereupon they withheld our food to 
compel us to do what they wanted. Seeing 
our obstinacy, an Indian told me that I did 
not know what I said by claiming that what 
he knew was useless, because stones and 
things growing out in the field have their 
virtues, and he, with a heated stone, placing 
it on the stomach, could cure and take away 
pain, so that we, who were wiser men, sure- 
ly had greater power and virtue. 

At last we found ourselves in such 
stress as to have to do it, without risk- 
ing any punishment. Their manner of 
curing is as follows : When one is ill 
they call in a medicine man, and after 
they are well again not only do they give 
him all they have, but even things they 
strive to obtain from their relatives. All 
the medicine man does is to make a few cuts 
where the pain is located and then suck the 



skin around the incisions. They cauterize 
with fire, thinking it very effective, and I 
found it to be so by my own experience. 
Then they breathe on the spot where the 
pain is and believe that with this the disease 
goes away.^* 

The way we treated the sick was to make 
over them the sign of the cross while 
breathing on them, recite a Pater noster and 
Ave Maria, and pray to God, Our Lord, as 
best we could to give them good health and 
inspire them to do us some favors. Thanks 
to His will and the mercy He had upon us, 
all those for whom we prayed, as- soon as 
we crossed them, told the others that they 
were cured and felt well again. For this 
they gave us good cheer, and would rather 
be without food themselves so as to give it 
to us, and they gave us hides and other 
small things. So great was the lack of food 

"Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, Brevis Nar- 
ratio corvm qucs in Florida Ainericcz Provicia 
Gallis acciderunt (1591, in De Bry), says of the 
*'Mode of treating the sick" {Narrative of Le 
Moyne, Illustration 20, p. 9) : "Cutting into the 
skin of the forehead with a sharp shell, they suck 
out blood with their mouths." The remainder of 
the ceremony, as described, differs from that re- 
lated by Cabeza de Vaca. 



then that I often remained without eating 
anything whatsoever for three days, and 
they were in the same plight, so that it 
seemed to me impossible for life to last, al- 
though I afterwards suffered still greater 
privations and much more distress, as I 
shall tell further on. 

The Indians that kept Alonso del Cas- 
tillo, Andres Dorantes and the others, 
who were still alive, being of another 
language and stock, had gone to feed on 
oysters at another point of the mainland, 
where they remained until the first day of 
the month of April. Then they came back 
to the island, which was from there nearly 
two leagues off, where the channel is broad- 
est. The island is half a league wide and 
five long. 

All the people of this country go naked ; 
only the women cover part of their bodies 
with a kind of wool that grows on trees. 
The girls go about in deer skins. They are 
very liberal towards each other with what 
they have. There is np ruler among them. 
All who are of the same descendancy clus- 
ter together. There are two distinct lan- 



guages spoken on the island; those of one 
language are called Capoques, those of the 
other Han. They have the custom, when 
they know each other and meet from time to 
time, before they speak, to weep for half an 
hour. After they have wept the one who 
receives the visit rises and gives to the other 
all he has. The other takes it, and in a little 
while goes away with everything. Even 
sometimes, after having given and obtained 
all, they part without having uttered a word. 
There are other very queer customs, but 
having told the principal ones and the most 
striking, I must now proceed to relate what 
further happened to us. 

AFTER Dorantes and Castillo had 
come back to the island, they gath- 
ered together all the Christians, who 
were somewhat scattered, and there were in 
all fourteen. I, as told, was in another 
place, on the mainland, whither my Indians 
had taken me and where I suffered from 
such a severe illness that, although I might 
otherwise have entertained some hope for 



life, this was enough to take it away from 
me completely. When the Christians learn- 
ed of it they gave an Indian the robe of 
marten we had taken from the cacique, as 
stated, in order that he should guide them 
to where I was, to see me, and so twelve of 
them came, two having become so feeble 
that they did not dare to take them along. 

The names of those who came are : Alonso 
del Castillo, Andres Dorantes and Diego 
Dorantes, Valdivieso, Estrada, Tostado, 
Chaves, Gutierrez, an Asturian priest; 
Diego de Huelva, Estevanico, the negro 
Benitez, and as they reached the mainland 
they found still another of our men named 
Francisco de Leon, and the thirteen went 
along the coast. After they had gone by, 
the Indians with whom I was told me of it, 
and how Hieronimo de Alaniz and Lope de 
Oviedo had been left on the island. 

My sickness prevented me from following 
or seeing them. I had to remain with those 
same Indians of the island for more than 
one year, and as they made me work so 
much and treated me so badly I determined 

to flee and go to those who live in the woods 



on the mainland, and who are called those 
from (of) Charruco. 

I could no longer stand the life I was 
compelled to lead. Among many other 
troubles I had to^ pull the eatable roots 
out of the water and from among the 
canes where they were buried in the 
ground, and from this my fingers had 
become so tender that the mere touch of a 
straw caused them to bleed. The reeds 
would cut me in many places, because many 
were broken and I had to go in among them 
with the clothing I had on, of which I have 
told. This is why I went to work and joined 
the other Indians. Among these I improved 
my condition a little by becoming a trader, 
doing the best in it I could, and they gave 
me food and treated me well. 

They entreated me to go about from one 
part to another to get the things they needed, 
as on account of constant warfare there is 
neither travel nor barter in the land. 

So, trading along with my wares I 
penetrated inland as far as I cared to go 
and along the coast as much as forty 
or fifty leagues. My stock consisted main- 



ly of pieces of seashells and cockles, and 
shells with which they cut a fruit which 
is like a bean, used by them for healing 
and in their dances and feasts. This is 
of greatest value among them, besides 
shell-beads and other objects. These things 
I carried inland, and in exchange brought 
back hides and red ochre with which they 
rub and dye their faces and hair; flint for 
arrow points, glue and hard canes where- 
with to make them, and tassels made of the 
hair of deer, which they dye red. This 
trade suited me well because it gave me lib- 
erty to go wherever I pleased; I was not 
bound to do anything and no longer a slave. 
Wherever I went they treated me well, and 
gave me to eat for the sake of my wares. 
My principal object in doing it, however, 
was to find out in what manner I might get 
further away. I became well known among 
them; they rejoiced greatly when seeing 
me and I would bring them what they need- 
ed, and those who did not know me would 
desire and endeavor to meet me for the sake 
of my fame. 

My sufferings, while trading thus, it 


would take long to tell; danger, hunger, 
storms and frost overtaking me often in 
the open field and alone, and from which 
through the mercy of God, Our Lord, I 
escaped. For this reason I did not go out 
trading in winter, it being the time when the 
Indians themselves remain in their huts and 
abodes, unable to go out or assist each other. 

Nearly six years I spent thus in the coun- 
try, alone among them and naked, as they 
all were themselves. 

The reason for remaining so long was 
that I wished to take with me a Chris- 
tian called Lope de Oviedo, who still lin- 
gered on the island. The other compan- 
ion, Alaniz, who remained with him after 
Alonso del Castillo and Andres Dorantes 
and all the others had gone, soon died, and 
in order to get him (Oviedo) out of there, I 
went over to the island every year, entreat- 
ing him to leave with me and go, as well as 
we could, in search of Christians. But year 
after year he put it off to the year that was 
to follow. In the end I got him to come, 
took him away, and carried him across the 
inlets and through four rivers on the coast, 



since he could not swim. Thence we pro- 
ceeded, together with several Indians, to an 
inlet one league wide, very deep everywhere 
and which seemed to us, from what we saw, 
to be the one called of the Holy Ghost.^^ 

On the opposite shore we saw Indians 
who had come to meet those in our com- 
pany. They informed us that further on 
there were three men like ourselves and told 
us their names. Upon being asked about 
the rest of the party, they answered that all 
had died from cold and hunger and that the 
Indians beyond had killed Diego Dorantes, 
Valdivieso and Diego de Huelva wilfully, 
only because these had gone from one house 
to another, and their neighbors with whom 
was now the Captain Dorantes, had, in con- 
sequence of some dream dreamt by these 
Indians, killed Esquivel and Mendez also. 

^"'Espintu Santo." This was the name given 
to a bay, and probably to the mouth of a large 
river. The Letter to the Audiencia, Oviedo (p. 
593)> describes it as follows: "This inlet (or 
bay) was wide, almost a league across, and it 
makes a point toward the direction of Panuco, 
that juts out into the sea nearly a quarter of a 
league, with some great dunes of white sand vis- 
ible at a great distance from the sea; and from 
this they suspected that it must have been the 
Espiritu Santo river." 



We asked them about those who remained 
alive, and they said they were in a very 
sorry condition, as the boys and other In- 
dians, idlers and roughs, kicked them, 
slapped their faces and beat them with 
sticks, and such was the life they had to 

We mquired about the country further 
on and the sustenance that mig-ht be found 
in it. They said it was very thinly set- 
tled, with nothing to eat, and the people 
dying from cold, as they had neither hides 
nor anything else to protect their bodies. 
They also told us that, if we wished to meet 
the three Christians about two days hence, 
the Indians would come to a place about a 
league from there on the shore of that river 
to feed on nuts. And to show us that what 
they said of the ill-treatment of our people 
w^as true the Indians with whom we were 
kicked and beat my companion. Neither 
did I remain without my share of it. They 
threw mud at us, and put arrows to our 
chests every day, saying they would kill us 
in the same way as our other companions. 

And fearing this. Lope de Oviedo, my com- 



panion, said he preferred to go back, with 
some women of the Indians in whose com- 
pany we had forded the cove and who had 
remained behind. I insisted he should not 
go and did all I could to prevail upon him 
to remain, but it was in vain. He went back 
and I remained alone among these Indians, 
who are named GueveneSy whereas those 
with whom he went away were called 

TWO days after Lope de Oviedo had 
gone the Indians who kept Alonso 
del Castillo and Andres Dorantes 
came to the very spot we had been told of 
to eat the nuts upon which they subsist for 
two months in the year, grinding certain 
small grains with them, without eating any- 
thing else. Even of that they do not al- 
w^ays have, since one year there may be 
some and the next year not. They (the 
nuts) are of the size of those of Galicia, and 
the trees are very big and numerous. 

An Indian told me that the Christians 
had come and that if I wished to see them 



I should run away to hide on the edge 
of a grove to which he pointed, as he 
and some of his relatives were to visit 
these Indians and would take me along 
to the Christians. I confided in them 
and determined to do it because they spoke 
a different language from that of my In- 
dians. So the next day they took me along. 
When I got near the site where they had 
their, lodges, Andres Dorantes came out tc ^ 
look who it was, because the Indians ha«^ 
informed him also that a Christian was com- 
ing, and when he saw me he was much 
frightened, as for many days they believed 
me to be dead, the Indians having told them 
so. We gave many thanks to God for being 
together again, and that day was one of the 
happiest we enjoyed in our time, and going 
to where was Castillo they asked me whither 
I went. I told him my purpose was to go to 
a country of Christians and that I followed 
this direction and trail. Andres Dorantes 
said that for many days he had been urging 
Castillo and Estevanico to go further on, 
but they did not risk it, being uir^ble to 

swim and afraid of the rivers and inlets that 



had to be crossed so often in that 

Still, as it pleased God, Our Lord, to spare 
me after all my sufferings and sickness and 
finally let me rejoin them, they at last deter- 
mined upon fleeing, as I would take them 
safely across the rivers and bays we might 
meet. But they advised me to keep it secret 
from the Indians (as well as my own de- 
parture) lest they would kill me forthwith, 
and that to avoid this it was necessary to 
remain with them for six months longer, 
after which time they would remove to an- 
other section in order to eat prickly pears. 
These are a fruit of the size of eggs, red 
and black, and taste very good. For three 
months they subsist upon them exclusively, 
eating nothing else. 

Now, at the time they pluck this fruit, 
other Indians from beyond come to them 
with bows for barter and exchange, and 
when those turn back we thought of joining 
them and escaping in this way. With this 
understanding I remained, and they gave 
me as a slave to an Indian with whom Dor- 
antes stayed. This Indian, his wife, their 



son and another Indian who was with them 
were all cross-eyed. These are called Mari- 
ames, and Castillo was with others, who 
were their neighbors, called Iguaces. 

And so, being here with them, they told me 
that after leaving the Island of Ill-Fate they 
met on the coast the boat in which the purser 
and the monks were going adrift, and that 
crossing the rivers, of which there were 
four, all very large and very swift, the 
barges in which they crossed were swept out 
into the sea, where four of their number 
were drowned. Thus they went ahead until 
they had crossed the inlet, whica they did 
by dint of great efforts. Fifteen leagues 
from there they met another of our parties, 
and when they reached there, already two of 
their companions had died in sixty leagues 
of travel. The survivors also were very 
near death. On the whole trip they ate 
nothing but crawfish and yerba pedrera}^ 

At this, the last cove, they said they saw 
Indians eating blackberries, who, upon per- 
ceiving the Christians, went away to an- 

"I have been unable to find, as yet, any refer- 
ence that might serve to explain this term. 




other promontory. While seeking a way to 
cross the cove an Indian and a Christian 
came towards them, and they recognized 
Figueroa, one of the four we had sent ahead 
from the Island of Ill-Fate, who there told 
them how he and his companions had got- 
ten to that place, where two of their num- 
ber and one Indian had died from cold and 
hunger, because they had come and re- 
mained in the worst weather known. He 
also said the Indians took him. and Mendez. 
While with them Mendez fled, going in 
the direction of Panuco as best he might, 
but the Indians pursued and killed him. 
So, as he (Figueroa) was with these same 
Indians he learned (from them) that with 
the Mariames there was a Christian who had 
come over from the other side and had met 
him^^ with those called Guevenes; and that 
this Christian was Hernando de Esquivel, 
from Badajoz, a companion of the commis- 
sary. From Esquivel he learned how the 
Governor, the purser and the others had 

*^Thus in original, although it seems unclear. 
I do not venture to make or suggest a change. 



The purser, with the friars, had stranded 
with their barge among the rivers, and, 
while they were proceeding along the coast, 
the barge of the Governor and his men came 
to land also. He (the Governor) then went 
with his barge as far as the big cove, 
whence he returned and took his men across 
to the other side, then came back for the 
purser, the monks and the rest. He further 
told him that after disembarking, the Gov- 
ernor revoked the powers he had given to 
the purser as his lieutenant, giving the 
office to a captain that was with him called 

The Governor did not land that night, 
but remained on his barge with a pilot 
and a page who was sick. They had 
neither water nor anything to eat aboard, 
and at midnight a northerner set in with 
such violence that it carried the barge out 
into the sea, without anybody noticing it. 
They had for an anchor only a stone, and 
never more did they hear of him. There- 
upon the people who had remained on land 
proceeded along the coast, and, being much 

impeded by water, built rafts with great 



trouble, in which they passed to the other 

Going ahead, they reached a point of tim- 
ber on the beach, where they found Indians, 
who, upon seeing them approach, placed 
their lodges on the canoes and crossed over 
to the other side of the coast, and the Chris- 
tians, in view of the season and weather, 
since it was in the month of November, re- 
mained in this timber, because they found 
water and firewood, some crawfish and 
other sea-food, but from cold and hunger 
they began to die. 

Moreover, Panto j a, who remained as lieu- 
tenant, ill-treated them. On this Sotomayor, 
brother of Vasco Porcallo (the one from the 
Island of Cuba, who had come in the fleet 
as Maestro de Campo), unable to stand it 
longer, quarrelled with Pantoja and struck 
him a blow with a stick, of which he died. 
Thus they perished one after another, the 
survivors slicing the dead for meat. The 
last one to die was Sotomayor, and Esquivel 
cut him up and fed on his body until the 
first of March, when an Indian, of those 

who had taken to flight previously, came to 



look if they were dead and took Esquivel 
along with him. 

Once in the hands of this Indian, Fi- 
gueroa spoke to Esquivel, learning from him 
what we have told here, and he entreated 
him to go in his company towards Panuco. 
But Esquivel refused, saying he had heard 
from the monks that Panuco was in their 
rear, and so he remained, while Figueroa 
went back to the coast where he formerly 
had been.^^ 

LL this account Figueroa gave after 
Esquivel's narrative, and thus, from 
one to the other, it came to me. 
Through it the fate of the whole fleet will 
be learned and known, and what happened 
to every one in particular. And he said fur- 
thermore that if the Christians would go 
about there for some time they might possi- 
bly meet Esquivel, because he knew that he 
had run away from the Indian with whom 
he was and gone to others called Mariames, 
who were their neighbors. And, as I have 

''This is substantially corroborated in Oviedo. 



just said, he and the Asturian wished to go 
to other Indians further on, but when 
those with whom they were found it out, 
they beat them severely, undressed the As- 
turian and pierced one of his arms with an 

At last the Christians escaped through 
flight, and remained with the other Indians, 
whose slaves they agreed to become. But, 
although serving them, they were so ill- 
treated, that no slaves, nor men in any con- 
dition of life, were ever so abused. Not 
content with cuffing and beating them and 
pulling out their beards for mere pastime, 
they killed three out of the six only because 
they went from one lodge to another. These 
were Diego Dorantes, Valdivieso and Diego 
de Huelva. The three remaining ones ex- 
pected to meet the same fate in the end. 

To escape from that life Andres Dorantes 
fled to the Mariames, and they were the ones 
with whom Esquivel had been. They told 
him how Esquivel stayed with them and how 
he fled because a woman dreamt he would 
kill her son, and the Indians pursued and 
killed him. They also showed Andres Dor- 



antes his sword, his rosary, his prayer book 
and other things of his. 

It is a custom of theirs to kill even their 
own children for the sake of dreams, and 
the girls when newly born they throw away 
to be eaten by dogs. The reason why they 
do it is (as they say) that all the others of 
that country are their enemies with whom 
they are always at war, and should they 
marry their daughters they might multiply 
so much as to be able to overcome them and 
reduce them to slavery. Hence they prefer 
to kill the girls rather than see them give 
birth to children who would become their 

We asked them why they did not wed 
the girls among themselves. They replied 
it was bad to marry them to their own kin,, 
and much better to do away with their 
daughters than to leave them to relatives or 
to enemies. This custom they have in com- 
mon with their neighbors, the Iguaces, and 
no other tribe of that country has it. When 
they want to get married they buy their 
wives from their enemies. The price paid 

for a woman is a bow, the best to be had, 



with two arrows, and if he has no bow he 
gives a net as much as a fathom in width 
and one in length. They kill their own chil- 
dren and buy those of strangers. Marriage 
only lasts as long as they please. For a 
mere nothing they break up wedlock. 

Dorantes remained only a few days with 
those Indians and then escaped. Castillo 
and Estevanico went inland to the Iguaces, 
All those people are archers and well built^ 
although not as tall as those we had left 
behind us, and they have the nipple and lip 
perforated. Their principal food are two 
or three kinds of roots, which they hunt for 
all over the land ; they are very unhealthy,, 
inflating, and it takes two days to roast 
them. Many are very bitter, and with all 
that they are gathered with difficulty. But 
those people are so much exposed to starva- 
tion that these roots are to them indispensa- 
ble and they walk two and three leagues to- 
obtain them. Now and then they kill deer 
and at times get a fish, but this is so little 
and their hunger so great that they eat 
spiders and ant eggs,^® worms, lizards and 

*The pupas. 



salamanders and serpents, also vipers the 
bite of which is deadly. They swallow 
earth and wood, and all they can get, the 
dung of deer and more things I do not men- 
tion ; and I verily believe, from what I saw, 
that if there were any stones in the country 
they would eat them also. They preserve 
the bones of the fish they eat, of snakes and 
other animals, to pulverize them and eat the 

The men do not carry burdens or loads, 
the women and old men have to do it, for 
those are the people they least esteem. They 
have not as much love for their children as 
those spoken of before. Some among them 
are given to unnatural vices. The women 
are compelled to do very hard work and in 
a great many ways, for out of twenty-four 
hours of day and night they get only six 
hours' rest. They spend most of the night in 
stirring the fire to dry those roots which 
they eat, and at daybreak they begin to dig 
and carry firewood and water to their 
houses and attend to other necessary mat- 
ters. Most of these Indians are great 

thieves, for, although very liberal towards 



each other, as soon as one turns his head, 
his own son or the father grabs what he can. 
They are great liars and drunkards and take 
something in order to become intoxicated. 
They are so accustomed to running that, 
without resting or getting tired, they run 
from morning till night in pursuit of a deer, 
and kill a great many, because they follow 
until the game is worn out, sometimes catch- 
ing it alive. Their huts are of matting 
placed over four arches. They carry them 
on their back and move every two or three 
days in quest of food; they plant nothing 
that would be of any use. 

They are a very merry people, and even 
when famished do not cease to dance and 
celebrate their feasts and ceremonials. Their 
best times are when * 'tunas" (prickly pears) 
are ripe, because then they have plenty to eat 
and spend the time in dancing and eating 
day and night. As long as these tunas last 
the squeeze and open them and set them to 
dry. When dried they are put in baskets 
like figs and kept to be eaten on the way» 
The peelings they grind and pulverize. 

While with them it happened many times 


that we were three or four days without 
food. Then, in order to cheer us, they 
would tell us not to despair, since we would 
have tunas very soon and eat much and 
drink their juice and get big stomachs and 
be merry, contented and without hunger. 
But from the day they said it to the season 
of the tunas there would still elapse five or 
six months, and we had to wait that long. 

When the time came, and we went to eat 
tunas, there were a great many mosquitoes 
of three kinds, all very bad and troublesome, 
which during most of the summer perse- 
cuted us. In order to protect ourselves we 
built, all around our camps, big fires of 
damp and rotten wood, that gave no flame 
but much smoke, and this was the cause of 
further trouble to us, for the whole night 
we did not do anything but weep from the 
smoke that went to our eyes, and the heat 
from the fires was so insufferable that we 
would go to the shore for rest. And when, 
sometimes, we were able to sleep, the In- 
dians roused us again with blows to go and 
kindle the fires. 

Those from further inland have another 


remedy, just as bad and even worse, whicli 
is to go about with a firebrand, set- 
ting fire to the plains and timber so as to 
drive off the mosquitoes, and also to get 
lizards and similar things which they eat, to 
come out of the soil. In the same manner 
they kill deer, encircling them with fires, 
and they do it also to deprive the animals o£ 
pasture, compelling them to go for food 
where the Indians want. For never they 
build their abodes except where there are 
wood and water, and sometimes load them- 
selves with the requisites and go in quest 
of deer, which are found mostly where there 
is neither water nor wood. 

On the very day they arrive they kill deer 
and whatever else can be had and use all 
the water and wood to cook their food with 
and build fires against the mosquitoes. They 
wait for another day to get something to 
take along on the road, and when they leave 
they are so badly bitten by mosquitoes as to 
appear like lepers. In this manner they 
satisfy their hunger twice or thrice a year 
and at such great sacrifice as I have told. 
Having been with them I can say that na 



toil or suffering in this world comes near 

All over this country there are a great 
many deer, fowl and other animals which I 
have before enumerated. Here also' they 
come up with cows ; I have seen them thrice 
and have eaten their meat. They appear to 
me of the size of those in. Spairu Their horns 
are small, like those of the Moorish cattle; 
the hair is very long, like fine wool and like 
a peajacket ; some are brownish and others 
'black, and to my taste they have better and 
more meat than those from here. Of the 
small hides the Indians make blankets to 
cover themselves with, and of the taller ones 
they make shoes and targets. These cows 
come from the north, across the coun- 
try further on, to the coast of Florida, 
and are found all over the land for over 
four hundred leagues. On this whole 
stretch, through the valleys by which they 
come, people who live there descend to sub- 
sist upon their flesh. And a great quantity 
of hides are met with inland.^* 

'°In print, this is the earliest notice extant of 
the American Bison, or Buffalo. The Letter to 
the Audiencia does not mention the "cows." It 



WHEN I had been with the Chris- 
tians for six months, waiting to 
execute our plans, the Indians 
went for ''tunas, " at a distance of thirty 
leagues from there, and as we were about to 
flee the Indians began fighting among them- 
selves over a woman and cuffed and struck 
and hurt each other, and in great rage each 
one took his lodge and went his own way. 
So we Christians had to part, and in no 
manner could we get together again until 
the year following. During that time I 
fared very badly, as well from lack of food 
as from the abuse the Indians gave me. So 
badly was I treated that I had to flee three 
times from my masters, and they all went in 
my pursuit ready to kill me. But God, Our 
Lord, in His infinite goodness, protected 
and saved my life. 

When the time for the tunas came we 
found each other again on the same spot. 

is probable, however, that the first report, sent 
to Spain by Mendoza, contained a reference to 
it. The Retacion does not reach beyond the time 
when they arrived at the bay, or river, of Espiritu 
Santo. Oviedo speaks of the cows after the book 
of 1542. 



We had already agreed to escape and ap- 
pointed a day for it, when on that very day 
the Indians separated us, sending each one 
to a different place, and I told my compan- 
ions that I would wait for them at the tunas 
until full moon. It was the first of Septem- 
ber and the first day of the new moon, and 
I told them that if at the time set they did 
not appear I would go on alone without 
them. We parted, each one going off with 
his Indians. 

I remained with mine until the thirteenth 
of the moon, determined to escape tO' other 
Indians as soon as the moon would be full, 
snd on that day there came to where I was 
Andres Dorantes and Estevanico. They 
told me they had left Castillo with other 
people nearby, called Anagados, and how 
they had suffered many hardships and been 
lost. On the following day our Indians 
moved towards where Castillo was and were 
going to join those who kept him, making 
friends with them, as until then they had 
been at war. So we got Castillo also. 

During all the time we ate tunas we felt 

thirsty. To allay our thirst we drank the 



juice of the fruit, pouring it first into a pit 
which we dug in the soil, and when that was 
full we drank to satisfaction. The Indians 
do it in that way, out of lack of vessels. 
The juice is sweet and has the color of 
must. There are many kinds of tunas, and 
some very good ones, although to me all 
tasted well alike, hunger never leaving me 
time to select, or stop to think which ones 
were better. Most of the people drink rain- 
water that collects here and there, for, as 
they never have a fixed abode, they know 
no springs nor established watering places, 
although there are rivers. 

All over the land are vast and handsome 
pastures, with good grass for cattle, and it 
strikes me the soil would be very fertile 
were the country inhabited and improved by 
reasonable people. We saw no mountains 
as long as we were in this country. These 
Indians told us that further on there were 
others called Camones, who live nearer the 
coast, and that they were those who killed 
all the people that came in the barge of 
Penalosa and Tellez. They had been so 
emaciated and feeble that when being killed 



they offered no resistance. So the Indians 
finished with all of them, and showed us 
some of their clothes and weapons and said 
the barge was still there stranded. This 
is the fifth of the missing ones. That of the 
Governor we already said had been swept 
out into the sea, the one of the purser and 
the rnonks was seen stranded on the beach 
and Esquivel told us of their end. Of the 
two in which Castillo, I and Dorantes were 
I have told how they sank close to the Isle 
of Ill-Fate. 


H WO days after moving we recom- 
mended ourselves to God, Our 
Lord, and fled, hoping that, al- 
though it was late in the season and the 
fruits of the tunas were giving out, by re- 
maining in the field we might still get over 
a good portion of the land. As we proceeded 
that day, in great fear lest the Indians would 
follow us, we descried smoke, and, going 
towards it, reached the place after sundown, 
where we found an Indian who, when 

he saw us coming, did not wait, but ran 



away. We sent the negro after him, and 
as the Indian saw him approach alone he 
waited. The negro told him that we were 
going in search of the people that had raised 
the smoke. He answered that the dwellings 
were nearby and that he would guide us, 
and we followed. He hurried ahead to tell 
of our coming. At sunset we came in sight 
of the lodges, and two crossbow shots before 
reaching them met four Indians waiting for 
us, and they received us well. We told them 
in the language of the Mariames that we 
had come to see them. They appeared to be 
pleased with our company and took us to 
their homes. They lodged Dorantes and 
the negro at the house of a medicine man, 
and me and Castillo at that of another. 
These Indians speak another language and 
are called Avavares. They were those who 
used to fetch bows to ours and barter with 
them, and, although of another nation and 
speech, they understand the idiom of those 
with whom we formerly were and had ar- 
rived there on that very day with their 
lodges. Forthwith they offered us many 

tunas, because they had heard of us and of 



how we cured and of the miracles Our Lord 
worked through us. And surely, even if 
there had been no other tokens, it was won- 
derful how He prepared the way for us 
through a country so scantily inhabited, 
causing us to meet people where for a long 
time there had been none, saving us from 
so many dangers, not permitting us to be 
killed, maintaining us through starvation 
and distress and moving the hearts of the 
people to treat us well, as we shall tell fur- 
ther on. 

ON the night we arrived there some 
Indians came to Castillo complain- 
ing that their heads felt very sore 
and begging him for relief. As soon as he 
had made the sign of the cross over them 
and recommended them to God, at that very 
moment the Indians said that all the pain 
was gone. They went back to their abodes 
and brought us many tunas and a piece of 
venison, something we did not know any 
more what it was, and as the news spread 
that same night there came many other sick 



people for him to cure, and each brought a 
piece of venison, and so many there were 
that we did not know where to store the 
meat. We thanked God for His daily in- 
creasing mercy and kindness, and after they 
were all well they began to dance and cele- 
brate and feast until sunrise of the day fol- 

They celebrated our coming for three 
days, at the end of which we asked them 
about the land further on, the people and 
the food that there might be obtained. 
They replied there were plenty of tunas all 
through that country, but that the season 
was over and nobody there, because all 
had gone to their abodes after gathering 
tunas; also that the country was very cold 
and very few hides in it. Hearing this, and 
as winter and cold weather were setting in, 
we determined to spend it with those In- 
dians. Five days after our arrival they left 
to get more tunas at a place where people of 
a different nation and language lived, 
and having travelled five days, suffering 
greatly from hunger, as on the way 
there were ^leither tunas nor any kind of 



fruit, we came to a river, where we pitched 
our lodges. 

As soon as we were settled we went out 
to hunt for the fruit of certain trees, 
which are like spring bittervetch (orobus), 
and as through all that country there 
are no trails, I lost too much time in 
hunting for them. The people returned 
without me, and starting to rejoin them 
that night I went astray and got lost. It 
pleased God to let me find a burning tree, 
by the fire of which I spent that very cold 
night, and in the morning loaded myself 
with wood, took two burning sticks and 
continued my journey. Thus I went on for 
five days, always with my firebrands and 
load of wood, so that in case the fire went 
out where there was no timber, as in many 
parts there is none, I always would have 
wherewith to make other torches and not be 
without firewood. It was my only protec- 
tion against the cold, for I went as naked 
as a new-born child. For the night I used 
the following artifice : 

I went to the brush in the timber near the 
rivers and stopped in it every evening be- 



fore sunset. Then I scratched a hole in the 
g-round and threw in it much firewood from 
the numerous trees. I also picked up dry 
wood that had fallen and built around the 
liole four fires crosswise, being very careful 
to stir them from time to time. Of the long- 
^rass that grows there I made bundles, with 
which I covered myself in that hole and so 
was protected from the night cold. But one 
night fire fell on the straw with which I was 
covered, and while I was asleep in the hole 
it began to burn so rapidly that, although I 
hurried out as quick as possible, I still have 
marks on my hair from this dangerous acci- 
dent. During all that time I did not eat a 
mouthful, nor could I find anything to eat, 
and my feet, being bare, bled a great deal. 
God had mercy upon me, that in all this time 
there was no norther ; otherwise I could not 
have survived. 

At the end of five days I reached the 
shores of a river and there met my Indians. 
They, as well as the Christians, had given 
me up for dead, thinking that perhaps some 
snake had bitten me. They all were greatly 

pleased to see me, the Christians especially, 



and told me that thus far they had wan- 
dered about famishing, and therefore had 
not hunted for me, and that night they gave 
me of their tunas. On the next day we left 
and went where we found a great many of 
that fruit with which all appeased their hun- 
ger, and we gave many thanks to Our Lord, 
whose help to us never failed. 

EARLY the next day many Indians 
came and brought five people who 
were paralyzed and very ill, and 
they came for Castillo to cure them. Every 
one of the patients offered him his bow and 
arrows, which he accepted, and by sunset he 
made the sign of the cross over each of the 
sick, recommending them to God, Our Lord, 
and we all prayed to Him as well as we 
could to restore them to health. And He, 
seeing there was no other way of getting 
those people to help us so that we might 
be saved from our miserable existence, had 
mercy upon us, and in the morning all woke 
up well and hearty and went away in such 

good health as if they never had had any 



ailment whatever. This caused them great 
admiration and moved us to thanks to Our 
Lord and to greater faith in His good- 
ness and the hope that He would save us, 
guiding us to where we could serve Him* 
For myself I may say that I always had 
full faith in His mercy and in that He would 
liberate me from captivity, and always told 
my companions so. 

When the Indians had gone and taken 
along those recently cured, we removed to 
others that were eating tunas also, called 
Cultalchuches and Malicones, which speak a 
different language, and with them were 
others, called Coayos and Susolas, and on 
another side those called Atayos, who were 
at war with the Susolas, and exchanging 
arrow shots with them every day. 

Nothing was talked about in this whole 

country but of the wonderful cures which 

God, Our Lord, performed through us, and 

so they came from many places to be cured, 

and after having been with us two days 

some Indians of the Susolas begged Castillo 

to go and attend to a man who had been 

wounded, as well as to others that were sick 



and among whom, they said, was one on the 
point of death. Castillo was very timid, es- 
pecially in difficult and dangerous cases, and 
always afraid that his sins might interfere 
and prevent the cures from being effective. 
Therefore the Indians told me to go and 
perform the cure. They liked me, remem- 
bering that I had relieved them while they 
were out gathering nuts, for which they had 
given us nuts and hides. This had happened 
at the time I was coming to join the Chris- 
tians. So I had to go, and Dorantes and 
Estevanico went with me. 

When I came close to their ranches I saw 
that the dying man we had been called to 
cure was dead, for there were many people 
around him weeping and his lodge was torn 
down, which is a sign that the owner has 
died. I found the Indian with eyes up- 
turned, without pulse and with all the marks 
of lifelessness. At least so it seemed to me, 
and Dorantes said the same. I removed a 
mat with which he was covered, and as best 
I could prayed to Our Lord to restore his 
liealth, as well as that of all the others who 

might be in need of it, and after having 



made the sign of the cross and breathed ors' 
him many times they brought his bow anci 
presented it to me, and a basket of ground^! 
tunas, and look me to many others whd 
were suffering from vertigo. They gave 
me two more baskets of tunas, which I lef^^ 
to the Indians tiiat had come with us. Tlien \ 
we returned to our quarters. 

Our Indians to whom I had given the 
tunas remained there, and at night re- 
turned telling, that the dead man whonix 
I attended to in tlieir presence had resus- 
citated, rising from his bed, had walkedf- 
about, eaten and talked to them, and that 
all those treated by me were well and ii>, 
very good spirits. This caused great sur-= 
prise and awe, and all over the land noth- 
ing else was spoken of. All who heard it^ 
came to us that we might cure them and; 
bless their children, and when the Indian*, 
in our company (who were the Cultal- 
chulches) had to return to their country, be- 
fore parting they offered us all the tunaS:, 
they had for their journey, not keeping a-, 
single one, and gave us flint stones as long; 

as one and a-half palms, with which they cut 



and that are greatly prized among them. 
uThey begged us to remember them and pray 
to God to keep them always healthy, which 
we promised to do, and so they left, the hap- 
piest people upon earth, having given us the 
very best they had. 

We remained with the Avavares Indians 
for eight months, according to our reckon- 
ing of the moons. During that time they 
came for us from many places and said that 
verily we were children of the sun. Until 
then Dorantes and the negro had not made 
any cures, but we found ourselves so 
pressed by the Indians coming from all 
sides, that all of us had to become medicine 
men. I was the most daring and reckless of 
all in undertaking cures. We never treated 
anyone that did not afterwards say he was 
Well, and they had such confidence in our 
skill as to believe that none of them would 
die as long as we were among them. 

These Indians and the ones we left be- 
hind told us a very strange tale. From their 
account it may have occurred fifteen or six- 
teen years ago. They said there wandered 

then about the country a man, whom they 



called ''Bad Thing," of small stature and 

with a beard, although they never could see 

his features clearly, and whenever he would 

approach their dwellings their hair would 

stand on end and they began to tremble. In 

the doorway of the lodge there would then 

appear a firebrand. That man thereupon 

came in and took hold of anyone he chose, 

and with a sharp knife of flint, as broad as a 

hand and two palms in length, he cut their 

side, and, thrusting his hand through the 

gash, took out the entrails, cutting off a 

piece one palm long, which he threw into 

the fire. Afterwards he made three cuts in 

one of the arms, the second one at the place 

where people are usually bled, and twisted 

the arm, but reset it soon afterwards. Then 

he placed his hands on the wounds, and they 

told us that they closed at once. Many 

times he appeared among them while they 

were dancing, sometimes in the dress of a 

woman and again as a man, and whenever 

he took a notion to do it he would seize the 

hut or lodge, take it up into the air and come 

down with it again with a great crash. They 

also told us how, many a time, they set food 



before him, but he never would partake of 
it, ajid when they asked him where he came 
from and where he had his home, he 
pointed to a rent in the earth and said his 
house was down below.^^ 

We laughed very much at those stories, 
making fun of them, and then, seeing our 
incredulity they brought to us many of 
those whom, they said, he had taken, and 
we saw the scars of his slashes in the places 
and as they told. We told them he was a 
demon and explained as best we could that 
if they would believe in God, Our Lord, and 
be Christians like ourselves, they would not 
have to fear that man, nor would he come 
and do such things unto them, and they 
might be sure that as long as we were in this 
country he would not dare to appear again. 
At this they were greatly pleased and lost 
much of their apprehension. 

The same Indians told us they had seen 
the Asturian and Figueroa with other In- 
dians further along on the coast, which we 

"There is no mention of this story in Oviedo. 
What may be the basis for it is impossible to 
conjecture. It may have been a tradition, but 
completely misunderstood, hence misreported, by 
the Spaniards. 



had named of the figs. All those people had 
no reckoning by either sun or moon, nor do 
they count by months and years ; they judge 
of the seasons by the ripening of fruits, by 
the time when fish die and by the appear- 
ance of the stars, in all of which they are* 
very clever and expert. While with them, 
we were always well treated, although our 
food was never too plentiful, and we had to- 
carry our own water and wood. Their dwelK 
ings and their food are like those of the 
others, but they are much more exposed to 
starvation, having neither maize nor acorns 
or nuts. We always went about naked like 
they and covered ourselves at night withL 
deer skins. 

During six of the eighteen months we 
were with them we suffered much front 
hunger, because they do not have fish either. 
At the end of that time the tunas began to 
ripen, and without their noticing it we left 
and went to other Indians further ahead, 
called Mdiacones, at a distance of one day's 
travel. Three days after I and the negro 
reached there I sent him back to get Castillo 

and Dorantes, and after they rejoined me we 



all departed in company of the Indians, who 
went to eat a small fruit of some trees. On 
this fruit they subsist for ten or twelve days 
until the tunas are fully ripe. There they 
joined other Indians called Arhadaos, whom 
we found to be so sick, emaciated and swol- 
len that we were greatly astonished. The 
Indians with whom we had come went back 
on the same trail, and we told them that we 
wished to remain with the others, at which 
they showed grief. So we remained with 
the others in the field near their dwell- 

When the Indians saw us they clustered 
together, after having talked among them- 
selves, and each one of them took the one of 
us whom he claimed by the hand and they 
led us to their homes. While with those we 
suffered more from hunger than among any 
of the others. In the course of a whole day 
we did not eat more than two handfuls of 
the fruit, which was green and contained so 
much milky juice that our mouths were 
burnt by it. As water was very scarce, who- 
ever ate of them became very thirsty. And 
we finally grew so hungry that we pur- 



chased two dogs, in exchange for nets and 
other things, and a hide with which I used 
to cover myself. I have said already that 
through all that country we went naked, and 
not being accustomed tO' it, like snakes we 
shed our skin twice a year. Exposure to 
the sun and air covered our chests and backs 
with big sores that made it very painful to 
carry the big and heavy loads, the ropes of 
which cut into the flesh of our arms. 

The country is sO' rough and overgrown 
that often after we had gathered firewood 
in the timber and dragged it out, we would 
bleed freely from the thorns and spines 
which cut and slashed us wherever they 
touched. Sometimes it happened that I was 
unable to carry or drag out the firewood 
after I had gathered it with much loss of 
blood. In all that trouble my only relief or 
consolation was to remember the passion of 
our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the blood He 
shed for me, and to ponder how much 
greater His sufferings had been from the 
thorns, than those I was then enduring. I 
made a contract with the Indians to make 
combs, arrows, bows and nets for them. 



Also we made matting of which their lodges 
are constructed and of which they are in 
very great need, for, although they know- 
how to make it, they do not like to do any 
work, in order to be able to go in quest of 
food. Whenever they work they suffer 
greatly from hunger. 

Again, they would make me scrape skins 
and tan them, and the greatest luxury I en-^ 
joyed was on the day they would give me 
a skin to scrape, because I scraped it very 
deep in order to eat the parings, which would 
last me two or three days. It also happened 
to us, while being with these Indians and 
those before mentioned, that we would eat a. 
piece of meat which they gave us, raw, be- 
cause if we broiled it the first Indian coming 
along would snatch and eat it ; it seemed 
useless to take any pains, in view of what 
we might expect ; neither were we particular 
to go to any trouble in order to have it broil- 
ed and might just as well eat it raw. Such 
was the life we led there, and even that 
scanty maintenance we had to earn through 
the objects made by our own hands for 




AFTER we had eaten the dogs it 
seemed to us that we had enough 
strength to go further on, so we 
commended ourselves to the guidance of 
God, Our Lord, took leave of these Indians, 
and they put us on the track of others of 
their language who were nearby. While on 
our way it began to rain and rained the whole 
day. We lost the trail and found ourselves 
in a big forest, where we gathered plenty of 
leaves of tunas which we roasted that same 
night in an oven made by ourselves, and so 
much heat did we give them that in the 
morning they were fit to be eaten. After 
eating them we recommended ourselves to 
God again, and left, and struck the trail we 
had lost. 

Issuing from the timber, we met other 
Indian dwellings, where we saw two women 
and some boys, who were so frightened at 
the sight of us that they fled to the forest to 
call the men that were in the woods. When 
these came they hid behind trees to peep at 
us. We called them and they approached 
in great fear. After we addressed them 




they told us they were very hungry and that 
nearby were many of their own lodges, and 
they would take us to them. So that night 
we reached a site where there were fifty 
dwellings, and the people were stupefied at 
seeing us and showed much fear. After 
they had recovered from their astonishment 
they approached and put their hands to our 
faces and bodies and afterwards to their 
faces and bodies also. We stayed there that 
night, and in the morning they brought 
their sick people, begging us to cross them, 
and gave us of what they had to eat, which 
were leaves of tunas and green tunas 

For the sake of this good treatment, giv- 
ing us all they had, content with being with- 
out anything for our sake, we remained with 
them several days, and during that time 
others came from further on. When those 
were about to leave we told the first ones 
that we intended to accompany them. This 
made them very sad, and they begged us on. 
their knees not to go. But we went and left 
them in tears at our departure, as it pained 

them greatly. 



FROM the Island of Ill-Fate on, all the 
Indians whom we met as far as to 
here have the custom of not cohabit- 
ing with their wives when these are preg- 
nant, and until the child is two years old.^^ 

Children are nursed to the age of twelve 
years, when they are old enough to gather 
their own food. We asked them why they 
brought their children up in that way and 
they replied, it was owing to the great scar- 
city of food all over that country, since it 
was common (as we saw) to be without it 
two or three days, and even four, and for 
that reason they nursed the little ones so 
long to preserve them/ from perishing 
through hunger. And even if they should 
survive, they would be very delicate and 
weak. When one falls sick he is left to die 
in the field unless he be somebody's child; 
Other invalids, if unable to travel, are aban- 
doned; but a son or brother is taken 

There is also a custom for husbands to 

^^Not in Oviedo. He mentions it, however (on 
p. 617), as stated by Cabeza de Vaca in his book. 
,The same in regard to the following sentences. 



leave their wives if they do not agree, and 
to remarry whom they please ; this applies to 
the young men, but after they have had chil- 
dren they stay with their women and do not 
leave them. 

When, in any village, they quarrel among- 
themselves, they strike and beat each other 
until worn out, and only then do they sepa- 
rate. Sometimes their women step in and 
separate them, but men never interfere in 
these brawls. Nor do they ever use bow 
and arrow, and after they have fought and 
settled the question, they take their lodges 
and women and go out into the field to live 
apart from the others till their anger is 
over, and when they are no longer angry 
and their resentment has passed away they 
return to the village and are as friendly 
again as if nothing had happened. There 
is no need of mediation. When the 
quarrel is between unmarried people they 
go to some of the neighbors, who, even if 
they be enemies, will receive them well, with 
great festivities and gifts of what they have, 
so that, when pacified, they return to their 

village wealthy. 



They all are warriors and so astute in 
:guarding themselves from an enemy as if 
trained in continuous wars and in Italy. 
When in places where their enemies can 
offend them, they set their lodges on the 
•edge of the roughest and densest timber and 
dig a trench close to it in which they sleep. 
The men at arms are hidden by brushwood 
and have their loopholes, and are so well 
covered and concealed that even at close 
range they cannot be seen. 

To the densest part of the forest they 
open a very narrow trail and there ar- 
range a sleeping place for their women 
and children. As night sets in they 
build fires in the lodges, so that if there 
should be spies about, these would think 
the people to sleep there. And before 
sunrise they light the same fires again. 
Now, ditches, without being seen or dis- 

In case there are no forests wherein they 

can hide thus and prepare their ambushes, 

they settle on the plain wherever it appears 

most appropriate, surrounding the place 

with trenches protected by brushwood. In 



these they open loopholes through which 
they can reach the enemy with arrows, and 
those parapets they build for the night. 
While I was with the Aguenes and these 
not on their guard, their enemies surprised 
them at midnight, killitig three and wound- 
ing a number, so that they fled from their 
houses to the forest. As soon, however, as 
they noticed that the others had gone they 
went back, picked up all the arrows the 
others had spent and left and followed them 
as stealthily as possible. That same night 
they reached the others' dwellings unnoticed, 
and at sunrise attacked, killing five, be- 
sides wounding a great many. The rest 
made their escape, leaving homes and 
bows behind, with all their other belong- 

A short time after this the women of 
those calling themselves Guevenes came, 
held a parley and made them friends again, 
but sometimes women are also the cause of 
war. All those people when they have per- 
sonal questions and are not of one family, 
kill each other in a treacherous way and deal 
most cruelly with one another. 



THOSE Indians are the readiest pecK 
pie with their weapons of all I have 
seen in the world, for when they 
suspect the approach of an enemy they lie 
awake all night with their bows within 
reach and a dozen of arrows, and before one 
goes to sleep he tries his bow, and should 
the string not be to his liking he arranges 
it until it suits him. Often they crawl out 
of their dwellings so as not to be seen and 
look and spy in every direction after danger, 
and if they detect anything, in less than no 
time are they all out in the field with their 
bows and arrows. Thus they remain until 
daybreak, running hither and thither when- 
ever they see danger or suspect their ene- 
mies might approach. When day comes 
they unstring their bows until they go hunt- 

The strings of their bows are made of 
deer sinews. They fight in a crouching pos- 
ture, and while shooting at each other talk 
and dart from one side to the other to dodge 
the arrows of the foe. In this way they re- 
ceive little damage from our crossbows and 



muskets. On the contrary, the Indians 
laugh at those weapons, because they are not 
dangerous to them on the plains over which 
they roam. They are only good in narrows 
and in swamps. 
j/^ Horses are what the Indians dread most, 
j and by means of which they will be over- 
\ come. 
^ Whoever has to fight Indians must take 
great care not to let them think he is dis- 
heartened or that he covets what they own ; 
in war they must be treated very harshly, 
for should they notice either fear or greed, 
they are the people who know how to abide 
their time for revenge and to take courage 
from the fears of their enemy. After spend- 
ing all their arrows, they part, going each 
their own way, and without attempting pur- 
suit, although one side might have more 
men than the other ; such is their custom. 

Many times they are shot through and 
through with arrows, but do not die from 
the wounds as long as the bowels or heart 
are not touched ; on the contrary, they re- 
cover quickly. Their eyesight, hearing and 
senses in general are better, I believe, than 



those of any other men upon earth. They 
can standi and have to stand, much hunger^ 
thirst and cold, being more accustomed and 
used to it than others. This I wished to 
state here, since, besides that all men are. 
curious to know the habits and devices of 
others, such as might come in contact with 
those people should be informed of their 
customs and deeds, which will be of no- 
small profit to them. 

I ALSO do wish to tell of the nations 
and languages met with from the Is- 
land of Ill-Fate to the last ones, the 
Ciichendados. On the Island of Ill-Fate 
two languages are spoken, the ones they call 
Capoques, the others Han, On the main- 
land, facing the island, are others, called of 
Charruco, who take their name from the 
woods in which they live. Further on, along 
the seashore, are others, who call themselves; 
Deguenes, and in front of them others 
named those of Mendica. Further on, on 
the coast, are the Quevenes, in front fur-^ 
ther inland the Mariames, and following' 



the coast we come to the Guaycanes, and in 
front of them inland the Yeguaces. After 
those come the Atayos, and behind them 
others, called Decuhadaos, of whom there 
are a great many further on in this direc- 
tion. On the coast live the Quitoles, and in 
front of them, inland, the Chauauares. 
These are joined by the Maliacones and the 
Ctdtalchulches and others called Susolas 
and Comos, ahead on the coast are the 
Camolas, and further on those whom we call 
the people of the figs.^^ 

All those people have homes and villages 
^nd speak diifferent languages. Among them 
is a language wherein they call men imra 
aca, arraca, and dogs x6. 

In this whole country they make them- 
selves drunk by a certain smoke for which 
they give all they have. They also drink 
something which they extract from leaves of 

'^Oviedo gives no names of tribes. How far 
they may be reliable is extremely problematic. In 
the first place, it is very doubtful if Cabeza de 
Vaca understood as much of the language of the 
different tribes as he insinuates ; and next, even 
if they are really names of distinct tribes or bands, 
we cannot determine whether they were those 
which they gave to themselves or those given to 
them by others, which is always a great dif- 



trees, like unto water-oak, toasting them on 
the fire in a vessel like a low-necked bottle^ 
When the leaves are toasted they fill the 
vessel with water and hold it over the fire 
so long until it has thrice boiled ; then they 
pour the liquid into a bowl made of a gourd 
cut in twain. As soon as there is much foam 
on it they drink it as hot as they can stand, 
and from the time they take it out of the 
first vessel until they drink they shout,. 
"Who wants to drink?" When the women 
hear this they stand still at once, and al- 
though they carry a very heavy load do not 
dare to move. Should one of them stir, she 
is dishonored and beaten. In a great rage 
they spill the liquid they have prepared and 
spit out what they drank, easily and without 
pain. The reason for this custom, they say, 
is that when they want to drink that water 
and the women stir from the spot where 
they first hear the shouts, an evil substance 
gets into the liquid that penetrates their 
bodies, causing them to die before long. All 
the time the water boils the vessel must be 
kept covered. Should it be uncovered while 

a woman comes along they pour it out and 



do not drink of it. It is yellow and they 
drink it for three days without partaking of 
any food, each consuming an arroba and a 
half every day. 

When the women are ill they only seek 
food for themselves, because nobody else 
eats of what they bring.^* 

During the time I was among them I saw 
something very repulsive, namely, a man 
married to another. Such are impotent and 
womanish beings, who dress like women and 
perform the office of women, but use the 
l)Ow and carry big loads. Among these In- 
dians we saw many of them ; they are more 
robust than the other men, taller, and can 
t)ear heavy burthens. 

A'fter parting from those we had left in 
tears, we went with the others to their homes 
and were very well received. They brought 
lis their children to touch, and gave us much 
mezquite-meal. This mezquiquez^* is a fruit 

•*Not in Letter to Audiencia, but Oviedo men- 
tions it as contained in Cabeza de Vaca. 

"The well-known Mesquite tree. The report 
in Oviedo does not make mention of it, but in 
Chapter VII, of Book XXXV, Vol. Ill, p. 617, 
Oviedo copies almost literally this passage rela- 
tive to Mesquite. 



which, while on the tree, is very bitter and 

Hke the carob bean. It is eaten with earth 

and then becomes sweet and very palatable. 

The way they prepare it is to dig a hole in 

the ground, of the depth it suits them, and 

after the fruit is put in that hole, with a 

piece of wood, the thickness of a leg and one 

and a half fathoms long they pound it to a 

meal, and to the earth that mixes with it in 

the hole they add several handfuls and 

pound again for a while. After that they 

empty it into a vessel, like a small, round 

basket, and pour in enough water to cover it 

fully, so that there is water on top. Then 

the one who has done the pounding tastes 

it, and if it appears to him not sweet enough 

he calls for more earth to add, and this he 

does until it suits his taste. Then all squat 

around and every one reaches out with his 

hand and takes as much as he can. The 

seeds and peelings they set apart on hides, 

and the one who has done the pounding 

throws them back into the vessel, pouring 

water over them again. They squeeze out 

the juice and water, and the husks and seeds 

they again put on hides, repeating the opera- 



tion three or four times at every pounding. 
Those who take part in that banquet, which 
is for them a great occasion, get very big 
bellies from the earth and water they 

Now, of this, the Indians made a great 
feast in our behalf, and danced and cele- 
brated all the time we were with them. And 
at night six Indians, to each one of us, kept 
watch at the entrance to the lodge we slept 
in, without allowing anybody to enter be- 
fore sunrise. 

When we were about to leave some 

women happened to come, that belonged to 

Indians living further on, and, informing 

ourselves where their abodes were, we left, 

although the Indians entreated us to remain 

a day longer, since the place we wanted to 

go to was very far away, and there was no 

trail to it. They showed us how the women 

who had just arrived were tired, but that 

if we would let them rest until the next day, 

they then would accompany and guide us. 

We left, nevertheless, and soon the women 

followed with others of the village. 

There being no trails in that country, we 


soon lost our way. At the end of four 
leagues we reached a spring, and there met 
the women who had followed us, and who 
told us of all they had gone through until 
they fell in with us again. We went on, 
taking them along as guides. 

In the afternoon we crossed a big river, 
the water being more than waist-deep. It 
may have been as wide as the one of Sevilla, 
and had a swift current. At sunset we 
reached a hundred Indian huts and, as we 
approached, the people came out to receive 
us, shouting frightfully, and slapping their 
thighs. They carried perforated gourds 
filled with pebbles, which are ceremonial ob- 
jects of great importance. They only use 
them at dances, or as medicine, to cure, and 
nobody dares touch therrt but themselves. 
They claim that those gourds have healing 
virtues, and that they come from Heaven, 
not being found in that country; nor do 
they know where they come from, except 
that the rivers carry them down when they 
rise and overflow the land. 

So great was their excitement and eager- 
ness to touch us that, every one wanting to 



be first, they nearly squeezed us to death, 
and, without suffering our feet to touch the 
ground, carried us to their abodes. So many 
crowded down upon us that we took refuge 
in the lodges they had prepared for our ac- 
commodation, and in no manner consented 
to be feasted by them on that night. 

The whole night they spent in celebration 
and dancing,^ ^ and the next morning they 
brought us every living soul of that village 
to be touched by us and to have the cross 
made over them, as with thie others. Then 
they gave to the women of the other village 
who had come with their own a great many 
arrows. The next day we went on, and all 
the people of that village with us, and when 

"It is perhaps not amiss to call attention here 
to the fact that an Indian dance is much more 
of a religious performance than a mere rejoicing. 
This Cabeza de Vaca, of course, did not, and 
could not, know. The dances may just as well 
have been, in part at least, conjurations, either 
to, implore the spirits to intercede for them with 
the mysterious strangers, or to protect the In- 
dians from any evil the newcomers might intend 
to inflict, by rendering them harmless. Of course, 
the further on th^ Spaniards went, and the better 
it became known that their actions were beneficial, 
the more these ceremonies had to assume the 
character of intercession only, coupled with 
thanks for the coming (or sending) of such pow- 
erfully beneficial beings. 



we came to other Indians were as well re- 
ceived as anywhere in the past; they also 
gave us of what they had and the deer they 
had killed during the day. Among these we 
saw a new custom. Those who were with 
lis took away from those people who came 
to get cured their bows and arrows, their 
shoes and beads, if they; wore any, and 
placed them before us to induce us to cure 
the sick. As soon as these had been treated 
they went away contented and saying they 
felt well. 

So we left there also, going to others, by 
whom we were also very well received, and 
they brought us their sick, who, after we 
had made the sign of the cross over them, 
would say they were healed, and he who 
did not get well still believed we might cure 
him. And at what the others whom we had 
treated told they rejoiced and danced so 
much as not to let us sleep. 



'After we left those we went to many other 
lodges, but thence on there prevailed a new 
custom. While we were received very well 
everywhere, those who came with us would 
treat those who received us badly, taking 
away their belongings and plundering their 
homes, without leaving them anything. It 
grieved us very much to see how those who 
were so good to us were abused. Besides, 
we dreaded lest this behavior might cause 
trouble and strife. But as we could not ven- 
ture to interfere or punish the transgressors, 
we had to wait until we might have more 
authority over them. Furthermore, the suf- 
ferers themselves, noticing how we felt, 
comforted us by saying we should not 
worry ; that they were so happy at seeing us 
as to gladly lose their own, considering it 
to be well employed, and besides, that fur- 
ther on they would repay themselves from 
other Indians who were very rich. On that 
whole journey we were much worried by 
the number of people following us. We 
could not escape them, although we tried, 

because they were so anxious to touch us, 



and so obtrusive that in three hours we 
could not get through with them. 

The following day they brought us all the 
people of the village ; most of them had one 
eye clouded, while others were totally blind 
from the same cause, at which we were 
amazed. They are well built, of very good 
physique, and whiter than any' we had met 
until then. There we began to see mountains, 
and it seemed as if they swept down from 
the direction of the North Sea, and so, from 
what the Indians told us, we believe they 
are fifteen leagues from the ocean.^® 

From there we went with the Indians to- 
wards the mountains aforesaid, and they 
took us to some of their relatives. They did 
not want to lead us anywhere but to their 
own people, so as to prevent their enemies 
having any share in the great boon which, 

^Elsewhere I have observed that the terms, 
north, or south, sea, indicate, not the north and 
south respectively, but east and west ; the north 
sea being the Atlantic and the south sea the 
Pacific. Hence the mountains here mentioned 
extended, at least approximately, from east to 
west. As will be seen further on, the slopes of 
these mountains were covered with "iron slags," 
indicating volcanic rock. This may lead to the 
identification of the chain of mountains described 
by Cabeza de Vaca. 



as they fancied, it was to see us. And as 
soon as we would arrive those that went 
with us would sack the houses of the others ; 
but as these knew of the custom before our 
coming, they hid some of their chattels, and, 
after receiving us with much rejoicing, they 
took out the things which they had concealed 
and presented them to us. These were beads 
and ochre, and several little bags of silver.^* 
We, following the custom, turned the gifts 
immediately over to the Indians who had 
come in our company, and after they had 
given these presents they began their dances 
and celebrations, and sent for others from 
another village near by to come and look at 
us. In the afternoon they all came, and 
brought us beads, bows, and other little 
things, which we also distributed. 

The next day, as we were going to leave^ 
they all wanted to take us to others of their 

•"In place of "silver," the edition of 1555 has 
"margarita," which may stand for mica, or else 
foliated gypsum. Mica is more likely. Oviedo 
{ut supra) says : "This last relation [the one of 
1542] says the Indians gave to those Christians 
[Cabeza de Vaca and his companions] some little 
bags with silver, which is a mistake of the printer, 
who should have put, little bags with margarita 
(mica), and not 'with silver.' " 



friends, who dwelt on a spur of the moun- 
tains. They said there were a great many 
lodges, and people who would give us much, 
but, as it was out of our way, we did not 
want to go there, and continued on the plain, 
though near the mountains, thinking them 
to be not far from the coast. All the people 
there are very bad, and we preferred to cross 
the country, as further inland they were bet- 
ter inclined, and treated us better. We also 
felt sure to find the country more thickly 
settled and with more resources. Finally, 
we did it because, in crossing the country, 
we would see much more of its particulars, 
so that, in case God our Lord should be 
pleased to spare one of us and take him 
back to a land of Christians, he might give 
an account of it. 

When the Indians saw we were deter- 
mined not to go whither they wanted, they 
said that nobody lived where we intended 
to go, neither were there tunas nor any 
other food, and they entreated us to tarry 
one day longer with them, to which we con- 
sented. Two Indians were sent out to look 
for people on our proposed route. 



The next day we departed, taking many 
of them along, the women carrying water, 
and so great had become our authority that 
none dared to drink without our permission. 
After going two leagues we met the men 
sent out in search of people, but who had 
not found any. At this the Indians seemed 
to show grief, and again begged us to take 
the way of the mountains, but we persisted, 
and, seeing this, they took mournful leave 
of us and turned back down the river to their 
homes, while we proceeded along the stream 

Soon we met two women carrying loads. 
As they descried us they stood still, put 
down their loads, and brought us of what 
these contained, which was cornmeal, and 
told us that higher up on the river we would 
meet with dwellings, plenty of tunas, and 
of that same meat. We left them, as they 
were going to those from whom we had 
just taken leave, and walked on until at sun- 
set we reached a village of about twenty 
lodges, where they received us with tears 
and deep sorrow. They already knew that, 

wherever we arrived, the people would be 



robbed and plundered by those in our com- 
pany. But, seeing", us alone, they lost their 
fear, and gave us tunas, though nothing 
else. We stayed there over night. 

At daybreak the same Indians we had 
left the day before surprised the lodges, and, 
as the people were unprepared, in fancied se- 
curity, and had neither time nor place to 
hide anything, they were stripped of all their 
chattels, at which they wept bitterly. In 
consolation, the robbers told them that we 
were children of the sun, and had the power 
to cure or kill, and other lies, bigger even 
than those which they invent to suit their 
purposes. They also enjoined them to treat 
us with great reverence, and be careful not 
to arouse our wrath; to give us all they 
had and guide us to where there were many 
people, and that wherever we should come 
to they should steal and rob everything the 
others had, such being the custom. 

After giving these instructions, and teach- 
ing the people how to behave, they returned, 
and left us with these Indians, who, mind- 
ful of what the others had said, began to 
treat us with the same respect and awe, and 



we travelled in their company for three days. 
They took us to where there were many In- 
dians, and went ahead to tell them of our 
coming, repeating what they had heard and 
adding much more to it, for all these In- 
dians are great gossipers and liars, particu- 
larly when they think it to be to their bene- 
fit. As we neared the lodges all the in- 
mates came out to receive us, with much 
rejoicing and display, and, among other 
things, two of their medicine-men gave us 
two gourds. Thence onward we carried 
gourds, which added greatly to our author- 
ity, since they hold these ceremonial objects 
very high.*^ Our companions sacked the 
dwellings, but as there were many and they 
only few in number, they could not carry 
away all they took, so that more than half 
was left to waste. Thence we turned inland 
for more than fifty leagues, following the 
slopes of the mountains, and at the end of 
them met forty dwellings. 

There, among other things which they 
gave us, Andres Dorantes got a big rattle 

"The well-known rattles of the medicine-men, 
also used largely in dances. 



of copper, large, on which was represented 
a face, and which they held in great esteem. 
They said it had been obtained from some of 
their neighbors. Upon asking these whence 
it had come, they claimed to have brought 
it from the north, where there was much of 
it and highly prized. We understood that, 
wherever it might have come from, there 
must be foundries, and that metal was cast 
in molds.*^ Leaving on the next day, we 
crossed a mountain seven leagues long, the 
stones of which were iron slags. At night 
w^e came to many dwellings, situated on the 
banks of a very beautiful river. 

The inmates of these abodes came to re- 
ceive us halfways, with their children on 
their backs. They gave us a number of 
pouches with silver*^ and powdered anti- 
mony (or lead),*^ with which they paint 

*^This recalls the copper plate on the breast of 
a chief Quivira. (Compare the "J<^urney of 
Coronado," in this series.) That Indian did as 
little know the origin of the ornament he was 
wearing (although Nebraska lies considerably 
nearer the deposits of native copper than Texas) 
than the Indians of Cabeza de Vaca. From the 
(of course, fancied) belief in the existence of 
foundries, we may infer that the rattle was cast. 

*^Should be mica (margarita) . 

*^This may have been war-paint, both lead and 
antimony procuring a dark-bluish hue on the 



their faces, and many beads and robes of 
cow-skins, and loaded those who^ came with 
us with all their chattels. These people ate 
tunas and pine-nuts ; there are in that coun- 
try small trees of the sweet pine,^* the cones 
of which are like small eggs, but the nuts 
are better than those of Castilla, because the 
husks are thin. When still green they grind 
them and make balls that are eaten. When 
dried they grind the nuts with the husks, 
and eat them as meal. And those who re- 
ceived us, as soon as they had touched our 
bodies, returned to their houses on a run, 
then came again, and never stopped running 
back and forth. In this way they brought 
us a great many things for our journey. 

Here they brought to me a man who, they 
told, a long time ago had been shot through 
the left side of the back with an arrow, the 
head of which stuck close to his heart. He 
said it gave him much pain, and that on this 

skin. In New Mexico a manganese ore is used 
for war-paint. 

*^Pinus edulis, the well-known Pifion tree with 
its edible nuts. If the statement of Cabeza de 
Vaca, "in that country," means the place where 
he was then, it must have been somewhere within 
the triangle formed by the Rio Grande and the 
Pecos rivers, where the nut pine exists to-day. 



account he was sick. I touched the region 
of the body and felt the arrowhead, and that 
it had pierced the cartilage. So, with a 
knife, I cut open the breast as far as the 
place. The arrow point had gotten athwart, 
and was very difficult to remove. By cut- 
ting deeper, and inserting the point of the 
knife, with great difficulty I got it out; it 
was very long. Then, with a deer-bone, ac- 
cording to my knowledge of surgery, I made 
two stitches. After I had extracted the ar- 
row they begged me for it, and I gave it 
to them. The whole village came back to 
look at it, and they sent it further inland 
that the people there might see it also. 

On account of this cure they made many 
dances and festivities, as is their custom. 
The next day I cut the stitches, and the In- 
dian was well. The cut I had made only 
showed a scar like a line in the palm of the 
hand, and he said that he felt not the least 

Now, this cure gave us such fame among 
them all over the country as they were cap- 
able of conceiving and respecting. We 

showed them our rattle, and they told us that 



where it had come from there were a great 
many sheets of the same (metal) buried,*^ 
that it was a thing they valued highly, and 
that there were fixed abodes at the place. 
We believe it to be near the South Sea, for 
we always heard that sea was richer (in 
metal) than the one of the north. 

After leaving these people we travelled 
among so many different tribes and lan- 
guages that nobody's memory can recall 
them all, and always they robbed each 
other; but those who lost and those who 
gained were equally content. The number 
of our companions became so large that we 
could no longer control them. 

Going through these valleys each Indian 
carried a club three palms in length. They 
all moved in a front, and whenever a hare 
(of which there are many) jumped up they 
closed in upon the game, and rained such 
blows upon it that it was amazing to see. 
Thus they drove the hare from one to the 
other, and, to my fancy, it was the most 
agreeable chase that could be thought of, 
for many a time they would come right to 

*'This seems an allusion to native copper. 


one's hands ; and when at night we camped 
they had given us so many that each one of 
us had eight or ten loads.*® Those of the 
Indians who carried bows would not take 
part, but went to the mountains after deer, 
and when at night they came back it was 
with five or six deer for each one of us, with 
birds, quails, and other game; in short, all 
those people could kill they set before us, 
without ever daring to touch anything, even 
if dying of hunger, unless we blessed it 
first. Such was their custom from the time 
they joined us. 

The women brought many mats, with 
which they built us houses, one for each of 
us and those attached to him. After this we 
would order them to broil all the game, and 
they did it quickly in ovens built by them/ 
for the purpose. We partook of everything'- 
a little, giving the rest to the principal man 
among those who had come with us for dis- 
tribution among all. Every one then came 
with the share he had received for us to 
breathe on it and bless it, without which they 

"This recalls the ceremonial rabbit-hunt of the 
Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. 



left it untouched. Often we had with us 
three to four thousand persons. And it was 
very tiresome to have to breathe on and 
make the sign of the cross over every morsel 
they ate or drank. For many other things 
which they wanted to do they would come 
to ask our permission, so that it is easy to 
realize how greatly we were bothered. The 
women brought us tunas, spiders, worms, 
and whatever else they could find, for they 
would rather starve than partake of any- 
thing that had not first passed through our 

While travelling with those, we crossed 
a big river coming from the north and, tra- 
versing about thirty leagues of plains, met 
a number of people that came from afar to 
meet us on the trail, who treated us like the 
foregoing ones. 

Thence on there was a change in the man- 
ner of reception, insofar as those who would 
meet us on the trail with gifts were no 
longer robbed by the Indians of our com- 
pany, but after we had entered their homes 
they tendered us all they possessed, and the 

dwellings also. We turned over everything 



to the principals for distribution. Invariably 
those who had been deprived of their be- 
longings would follow us, in order to re- 
pair their losses, so that our retinue became 
very large. They would tell them to be 
careful and not conceal anything of what 
they owned, as it could not be done with- 
out our knowledge, and then we would 
cause their death. So much did they frighten 
them that on the first few days after join- 
ing us they would be trembling all the time, 
and would not dare to speak or lift their 
eyes to Heaven. 

Those guided us for more than fifty 
leagues through a desert of very rugged 
mountains, and so arid that there was no 
game. Consequently we suffered much from 
lack of food, and finally forded a very big 
river, with its water reaching to our chest. 
Thence on many of our people began to 
show the effects of the hunger and hard- 
ships they had undergone in those moun- 
tains, which were extremely barren and tire- 
some to travel. 

The same Indians led us to a plain be- 
yond the chain of mountains, where people 



came to meet us from a long distance. By 
those we were treated in the same manner 
as before, and they made so many presents 
to the Indians who came with us that, un- 
able to carry all, they left half of it. We 
told the givers to take it back, so as not to 
have it lost, but they refused, saying it was 
not their custom to take back what they 
had once offered, and so it was left to waste. 
We told these people our route was towards 
sunset, and they replied that in that direction 
people lived very far away. So we ordered 
them to send there and inform the inhabi- 
tants that we were coming and how. From 
this they begged to be excused, because the 
others were their enemies, and they did not 
want us to go to them. Yet they did not 
venture to disobey in the end, and sent two 
women, one of their own and the other 
a captive. They selected women because 
these can trade everywhere, even if there 
be war. 

We followed the women to a place where 
it had been agreed we should wait for them. 
After five days they had not yet returned, 

and the Indians explained that it might be 



because they had not found anybody. So 
we told them to take us north, and they re- 
peated that there were no people, except very 
far away, and neither food nor water. 
Nevertheless we msisted, saying that we 
wanted to go there, and they still excused 
themselves as best they could, until at last 
we became angry. 

One night I went away to sleep out in 
the field apart from them ; but they soon 
came to where I was, and remained awake 
all night in great alarm, talking to me, say- 
ing how frightened they were. They en- 
treated us not to be angry any longer, be- 
cause, even if it was their death, they would 
take us where we chose. We feigned to be 
angry still, so as to keep them in suspense, 
and then a singular thing happened. 

On that same day many fell sick, and 

on the next day eight of them died! All 

over the country, where it was known, 

they became so afraid that it seemed as if 

the mere sight of us would kill them. They 

besought us not to be angry nor to procure 

the death of any more of their number, for 

they were convinced that we killed them 



by merely thinking of it. In truth, we were 
very much concerned about it, for, seeing 
the great mortality, we dreaded that all of 
them might die or forsake us in their terror, 
while those further on, upon learning of it, 
would get out of our way hereafter. We 
prayed to God our Lord to assist us, and the 
sick began to get well. Then we saw some- 
thing that astonished us very much, and it 
was that, while the parents, brothers and 
wives of the dead had shown deep grief at 
their illness, from the moment they died the 
survivors made no demonstration whatso- 
ever, and showed not the slightest feeling; 
nor did they dare to go near the bodies until 
we ordered their burial. 

In more than fifteen days that we re- 
mained with them we never saw them talk 
together, neither did we see a child that 
laughed or cried. One child, who had be- 
gun to cry, was carried off some distance, 
and with some very sharp mice-teeth they 
scratched it from the shoulders down to 
nearly the legs. Angered by this act of 
cruelty, I took them to task for it, and they 

said it was done to punish the child for hav- 



ing wept in my presence. Their apprehen- 
sions caused the others that came to see us 
to give us what they had, since they knew 
that we did not take anything for ourselves, 
but left it all to the Indians. 

Those were the most docile people we met 
in the country, of the best complexion, and 
on the whole well built. 

The sick being on the way of recovery, 
when we had been there already three days, 
the women whom we had sent out returned, 
saying that they had met very few people, 
nearly all having gone after the cows, as 
it was the season. So we ordered those 
who had been sick to remain, and those 
who were well to accompany us, and that, 
two days' travel from there, the same 
women should go with us and get people 
to come to meet us on the trail for our 

The next morning all those who were 
strong enough came along, and at the end 
of three journeys we halted. Alonso del Cas- 
tillo and Estevanico, the negro, left with the 
women as guides, and the woman who was 

a captive took them to a river that flows 



between mountains,*^ where there was a vil- 
lage, in which her father lived, and these 
were the first abodes we saw that were like 
unto real houses. Castillo and Estevanico 
went to these and, after holding parley 
with the Indians, at the end of three days 
Castillo returned to where he had left us, 
bringing with him five or six of the In- 
dians. He told how he had found perma- 
nent houses, inhabited, the people of which 
ate beans and squashes,*^ and that he had 
also seen maize. 

Of all things upon earth this caused us 
the greatest pleasure, and we gave endless 
thanks to our Lord for this news. Castillo 
also said that the negro was coming to meet 
us on the way, near by, with all the people 
of the houses. For that reason we started, 
and after going a league and a half met the 
negro and the people that came to receive 

*^This being the last important stream met by 
the wanderers before they reached the Pacific 
states of Mexico, it may be permitted to inquire 
whether it was not perhaps the Rio Grande, in 
which case the stream previously mentioned, and 
along which the "cows" were roaming, was the 

*^The originals have "melones," but I have no 
doubt that a species of squash is meant. 



us, who gave us beans and many squashes 
to eat, gourds to carry water in, robes of 
cowhide, and other things. As those people 
and the Indians of our company were ene- 
mies, and did not understand each other, 
we took leave of the latter, leaving them 
all that had been given to us, while we went 
on with the former and, six leagues beyond, 
when night was already approaching, 
reached their houses, where they received us 
with great ceremonies. Here we remained 
one day, and left on the next, taking them 
with us to other permanent houses, where 
they subsisted on the same food also, and 
thence on we found a new custom. 

The people who heard of our approach 
did not, as before, come out to meet us on 
the way, but we found them at their homes, 
and they had other houses ready for us. 
They were all seated with their faces turned 
to the wall, the heads bowed and the hair 
pulled over the eyes. Their belongings had 
been gathered in a heap in the middle of the 
floor, and thence on they began to give us 
many robes of skins. There was nothing 
they would not give us. They are the best 



formed people we have seen, the liveliest 
and most capable; who best understood us 
and answered our questions. We called 
them ''of the cows," because most of the 
cows die near there,*® and because for more 
than fifty leagues up that stream they go to 
kill many of them. Those people go com- 
pletely naked, after the manner of the first 
we met. The women are covered with deer- 
skins, also some men, especially the old ones^ 
who are of no use any more in war. 

The country is well settled. We asked 
them why they did not raise maize, and they 
replied that they were afraid of losing the 
crops, since for two successive years it had 
not rained, and the seasons were so dry 
that the moles had eaten the corn, so that 
they did not dare to plant any more until 
it should have rained very hard. And they 
also begged us to ask Heaven for rain, 
which we promised to do. We also wanted to 
know from where they brought their maize, 
and they said it came from where the sun 

sets, and that it was found all over that 

■ r • 1 

*"Which is to say, that they are hunted and 
killed in that vicinity. 



country, and the shortest way to it was in 
that direction. We asked them to tell us 
how to go, as they did not want to go them- 
selves, to tell us about the way. 

They said we should travel up the river 
towards the north, on which trail for seven- 
teen days we would not find a thing to eat, 
except a fruit called chacan, which they 
grind between stones ; but even then it can- 
not be eaten, being so coarse and dry ; and 
so it was, for they showed it to us and we 
could not eat it. But they also said that, 
going upstream, we would always travel 
among people who were their enemies, al- 
though speaking the same language, and 
who could give us no food, but would re- 
ceive us very willingly, and give us many 
cotton blankets, hides and other things ; but 
that it seemed to them that we ought not 
to take that road. 

In doubt as to what should be done, and 
which was the best and most advantageous 
road to take, we remained with them for 
two days. They gave us beans, squashes,'^* 
and calabashes. Their way of cooking them 

"^Original has "melones!* 


is so new and strange that I felt like de- 
scribing it here, in order to show how dif- 
ferent and queer are the devices and indus- 
tries of human beings. They have no pots. 
In order to cook their food they fill a middle- 
sized gourd with water, and place into a 
fire such stones as easily become heated, and 
when they are hot to scorch they take them 
out with wooden tongs, thrusting them into 
the water of the gourd, until it boils. As 
soon as it boils they put into it what they 
want to cook, always taking out the stones 
as they cool off and throwing in hot ones 
to keep the water steadily boiling. This is 
their way of cooking. 

After two days were past we determined 
to go in search of maize, and not to follow 
the road to the cows, since the latter car- 
ried us to the north, which meant a very 
great circuit, as we held it always certain 
that by going towards sunset we should 
reach the goal of our wishes.^^ 

"By following the Rio Grande from the mouth 
of the Pecos, they indeed would have travelled 
almost due west for about a hundred and fifty 



So we went on our way and traversed the 
whole country to the South Sea, and our 
resolution was not shaken by the fear of 
great starvation, which the Indians said we 
should -suffer (and indeed suffered*) during 
the first seventeen days of travel. All along 
the river, and in the course of these seven- 
teen days we received plenty of cowhides, 
and did not eat of their famous fruit (cha- 
can), but our food consisted (for each day) 
of a handful of deer-tallow, which for that 
purpose we always sought to keep, and so 
endured these seventeen days, at the end of 
which we crossed the river and marched 
for seventeen days more. At sunset, on a 
plain between very high mountains, we met 
people who, for one-third of the year, eat 
but powdered straw, and as we went by 
just at that time, had to eat it also, until, at 
the end of that journey we found some 
permanent houses, with plenty of harvested 
maize, of which and of its meal they gave 
us great quantities, also squashes and beans, 
and blankets of cotton, with all of which 

miles, and thence northwest for about eighty- 
miles more, by air line; whereas, by ascending 
the Pecos they had to^go-^e north. 



we loaded those who had conducted us 
thither, so that they went home the most 
contented people upon earth. We gave God 
our Lord many thanks for having taken us 
where there was plenty to eat. 

Among the houses there were several 
made of earth, and others of cane matting; 
and from here we travelled more than a 
hundred leagues, always meeting permanent 
houses and a great stock of maize and beans, 
and they gave us many deer (-hides?) and 
blankets of cotton better than those of New 
Spain. They also gave us plenty of beads 
made out of the coral found in the South 
Sea ; many good turquoises, which they get 
from the north ; they finally gave us all they 
had ; and Dorantes they presented with five 
emeralds, shaped as arrow-points, which ar- 
rows they use in their feasts and dances.'*^ 
As they appeared to be of very good qual- 
ity, I asked whence they got them from, and 

*^The "emeralds" are not mentioned in the re- 
port published by Oviedo, but Oviedo himself re- 
fers to them (p. 6i8) from the 1542 edition. It 
is not unlikely they were malachites. I saw, in 
possession of a prominent medicine-man from the 
Pueblo of San Juan, in New Mexico, a plate of 
malachite shaped like a large, blunt knife, which 
he said had come from Chihuahua. It was, of 



they said it was from some very high moun- 
tains toward the north, where they traded 
for them with feather-bushes and parrot- 
plumes, and they said also that there were 
villages with many people and very big 

Among those people we found the women 
better treated than in any other part of the 
Indies as far as we have seen. They wear 
skirts of cotton that reach as far as the knee, 
and over them half-sleeves of scraped deer- 
skin, with strips that hang down to the 
ground, and which they clean with certain 
roots, that clean very well and thus keep 
them tidy. The shirts are open in front and 
tied with strings ; they wear shoes. 

All those people came to us that we might 
touch and cross them ; and they were so ob- 
trusive as to make it difficult to endure since 
all, sick and healthy, wanted to be crossed. 
It happened frequently that women of our 
company would give birth to children and 

course, not transparent, but had a fine emerald 
hue, with dendrites. In South America (Peru 
and Bolivia) among the common people emeralds 
having a so-called "garden" — that is, imperfectly 
transparent specimens — are highly prized, pro- 
vided their color is deep green. 



forthwith bring them to have the sign of the 
cross made over them and the babes be 
touched by us. They always accompanied 
us until we were again in the care of others, 
and all those people believed that we came 
from Heaven. What they do not under- 
stand or is new to them they are wont to 
say it comes from above. 

While travelling with these we used to go 
the whole day without food, until night, and 
then we would eat so little that the Indians 
were amazed. They never saw us tired, be- 
cause we were, in reality, so inured to hard- 
ships as not to feel them any more. We 
exercised great authority over them, and 
carried ourselves with much gravity, and, 
in order to maintain it, spoke very little to 
them. It was the negro who talked to them 
all the time ; he inquired about the road we 
should follow, the villages — in short, about 
everything we wished to know. We came 
across a great variety and number of lan- 
guages, and God our Lord favored us with 
a knowledge of all, because they always 
could understand us and we understood 

them, so that when we asked they would 



answer by signs, as if they spoke our tongue 
and we theirs; for, although we spoke six 
languages,^^ not everywhere could we use 
them, since we found more than a thousand 
different ones. In that part of the country 
those who were at war would at once make 
peace and become friendly to each other, in 
order to meet us and bring us all they pos- 
sessed ; and thus we left the whole country 
at peace. 

We told them, by signs which they under- 
stood, that in Heaven there was a man called 
God, by us, who had created Heaven and 
earth, and whom, we worshipped as our 
Lord ; that we did as he ordered us to do, 
all good things coming from his hand, and 
that if they were to do the same they would 
become very happy ; and so well were they 
inclined that, had there been a language in 
which we could have made ourselves per- 
fectly understood, we would have left them 
all Christians. All this we gave them to 
understand as clearly as possible, and since 
then, when the sun rose, with great shout 

•^^The acquiring of six Indian languages in the 
course of eight years, through practice imposed 
by necessity, is not impossible. 



ing they would lift their clasped hands to 
Heaven and then pass them all over their 
body. The same they did at sunset. They 
are well conditioned people, apt to follow 
any line which is well traced for them. 

In the village where they had given us 
the emeralds, they also gave Dorantes over 
six hundred hearts of deer, opened, of which 
they kept always a great store for eating. 
For this reason we gave to their settlement 
the name of "village of the hearts." Through 
it leads the pass into many provinces near 
the South Sea, and any one who should at- 
tempt to get there by another route must 
surely be lost, as there is no maize on the 
coast, and they eat powdered fox-tail grass, 
straw, and fish, which they catch in the sea 
in rafts, for they have no canoes. The 
women cover their loins with straw and 
grass. They are a very shy and surly 

We believe that, near the coast, in a line 
with the villages which we followed, there 
are more than a thousand leagues of inhab- 
ited land, where they have plenty of victuals, 



since they raise three crops of beans and 
maize in the year. There are three kinds 
"" of deer, one kind as large as calves are in 
Castilla. The houses in which they live are 
huts. They have a poison, from certain trees 
of the size of our apple trees. They need but 
pick the fruit and rub their arrows with it ; 
and if there is no fruit they take a branch 
and with its milky sap do the same. Many 
of those trees are so poisonous that 
if the leaves are pounded and washed 
in water near by, the deer, or any other 
animal that drinks of it burst at once.^* In 
this village we stayed three days, and at a 
day^s journey from it was another one, 
where such a rain overtook us that, as the 
river rose high, we could not cross it, and 
remained there fifteen days. 

During this time Castillo saw, on the neck 
of an Indian, a little buckle from a sword- 
belt, and in it was sewed a horseshoe nail. 
He took it from the Indian, and we asked 

"Not in the report given by Oviedo, but men- 
tioned by him as from the edition of 1542 (p. 
618). The village of the "hearts" is a point well 
established in southern central Sonora. (See 
"The Journey of Coronado," in this series, by 
Mr. Winship.) 



what it was ; they said it had come from 
Heaven. We further asked who had 
brought it, and they answered that some 
men, with beards hke ours, had come from 
Heaven to that river ; that they had horses, 
lances and swords, and had lanced two of 

As cautiously as possible, we then in- 
quired what had become of those men ; and 
they replied they had gone to sea, putting 
their lances into the water and going into 
it themselves, and that afterwards they saw 
them on top of the waves moving towards 

We gave God our Lord many thanks for 
what we had heard, for we were despairing 
to ever hear of Christians again. On the 
other hand, we were in great sorrow and 
much dejected, lest those people had come by 
sea for the sake of discovery only. Finally,, 
having such positive notice of them, we has- 
tened onward, always finding more traces of 
the Christians, and we told the Indians that 
we were now sure to find the Christians, 
and would tell them not to kill Indians 

or make them slaves, nor take them out of 



their country, or do any other harm, and of 
that they were very glad. 

We travelled over a great part of the 
country, and found it all deserted, as the 
people had fled to the mountains, leaving 
houses and fields out of fear of the Chris- 
tians. This filled our hearts with sorrow, 
seeing the land so fertile and beautiful, so 
full of water and streams, but abandoned 
and the places burned down, and the people, 
so thin and wan, fleeing and hiding; and 
as they did not raise any crops their desti- 
tution had become so great that they ate 
tree-bark and roots. Of this distress we had 
our share all the way along, because they 
could provide little for us in their indigence, 
and it looked as if they were going to die. 
They brought us blankets, which they had 
been concealing from the Christians, and 
gave them to us, and told us how the Chris- 
tians had penetrated into the country be- 
fore, and had destroyed and burnt the vil- 
lages, taking with them half of the men and 
all the women and children, and how those 
who could escaped by flight. Seeing them 

in this plight, afraid to stay anywhere, and 



that they neither would nor could cultivate 
the soil, preferring to die rather than suf- 
fer such cruelties, while they showed the 
greatest pleasure at being with us, we began 
to apprehend that the Indians who were in 
arms against the Christians might ill-treat 
us in retaliation for what the Christians did 
to them. But when it pleased God our Lord 
to take us to those Indians, they respected 
and held us precious, as the former had 
done, and even a little more, at which we 
were not a little astonished, while it clearly 
shows ho.w, in order to bring those people 
to Christianity and obedience unto Your 
Imperial Majesty, they should be well 
treated, and not otherwise. 

They took us to a village on the crest of 
a mountain, which can be reached only by 
a very steep trail, where we found a great 
many people, who had gathered there out 
of dread of the Christians. These received 
us very well, giving us all they had: over 
two thousand loads of .maize, which we dis- 
tributed among the poor, famished people 
v/ho had led us to the place. The next 

day we dispatched (as we were wont to do) 



four runners, to call together as many as 
could be reached, to a village three journeys 
away ; and on the next day we followed with 
all the people that were at the place, always 
meeting with signs, and vestiges where the 
Christians had slept. 

At noon we met our -messengers, who told 
us they had not found anybody, because all 
were hidden in the woods, lest the Chris- 
tians might kill or enslave them; also that, 
on the night before, they had seen the Chris- 
tians and watched their movements, under 
cover of some trees, behind which they con- 
cealed themselves, and saw the Christians 
take many Indians along in chains. At this 
the people who were with us became fright- 
ened, and some turned back to give the 
alarm through the land that Christians 
were coming, and many more would have 
done the same had we not told them to stay 
and have no fear, at which they quieted 
down and were comforted. We had Indians 
with us at the time who came from a dis- 
tance of a hundred leagues, and whom we 
could not induce to go back to their homes. 

So, in order to reassure them, we slept there 



that night, and the next day went further^ 
and slept on the road; and the day after 
those we 'had sent to explore guided us to 
where t'hey had seen the Christians. Reach- 
ing the place irr the evening, we clearly 
saw they had told the truth, and also, from 
the stakes to which the horses -had -been' tied, 
that there were horsemen among them. 

From here, which is called the river of 
Petutan,^^ to the river which Diego de Guz- 
man reached, there may be, from the place 
where we first heard of the Christians, 
eighty leagues ; thence to the village where 
the rain overtook us, twelve leagues ; and 
from there to the South Sea twelve leagues. ^*^ 
Throughout all that country, wherever it is 
mountainous, we saw many signs of gold, 
antimony, iron, copper and other metals. 
Where the permanent houses are it is so hot 
that even in January the air is very warm. 
From there to the southward the land, which 
is uninhabited as far as the Sea of the North, 
is very barren and poor. There we suffered 
great and almost incredible starvation; and 


•^^The distances must, of course, be taken with 
due reserve. 



those who roam through that country and 
dwell in it are very cruel people, of evil in- 
clinations and habits. The Indians who live 
in permanent houses and those in the rear of 
them pay no attention to gold nor silver, nor 
have they any use for either of these metals. 

Having seen positive traces of Chris- 
tians and become satisfied they were very 
near, we gave many thanks to our Lord for 
redeeming us from our sad and gloomy con- 
dition. Any one can imagine our delight 
when he reflects how long we had been in 
that land, and how many dangers and hard- 
ships we had suffered. That night I en- 
treated one of my companions to go after 
the Christians, who were moving through 
the part of the country pacified and quieted 
by us, and who were three days ahead of 
where we were. They did not like my sug- 
gestion, and excused themselves from going, 
on the ground of being tired and worn out, 
although any of them might have done it 
far better than I, being younger and 



Seeing their reluctance, in the morning 
I took with me the negro and eleven In- 
dians and, following the trail, went in search 
of the Christians. On that day we made 
ten leagues, passing three places were they 
had slept. The next morning I came upon 
four Christians on horseback, who, seeing 
me in such a strange attire, and in com- 
pany with Indians, were greatly startled. 
They stared at me for quite awhile, 
speechless; so great was their surprise that 
they could not find words to ask me any- 
thing. I spoke first, and told them to lead 
me to their captain, and we went tc^- 
gether to Diego de Alcaraz, their com- 

After I had addressed him he said that he 
was himself in a plight, as for many days 
he had been unable to capture Indians, and 
did not know where to go, also that starva- 
tion was beginning to place them in great 
distress. I stated to him that, in the rear 

"He was an officer of Nunc de Guzman, and a 
worthy one, at that, trained in the school of arbi- 
trariness and cruelty of his commander. Oviedo 
(III, p. 612) says that there were twenty Span- 
iards on horseback, according to the report to the 



of me, at a distance of ten leagues, were 
Dorantes and Castillo, with many people 
who had guided us through the country. 
He at once dispatched three horsemen, with, 
fifty of his Indians, and the negro went with 
them as guide, while I remained and 
asked them to give me a certified state-^ 
ment of the date — year, month and day — 
when I had met them, also the condition in 
which I had come, with which request they 

From this river to the village called San 
Miguel, which pertains to the government 
called New Galicia, there are thirty leagues. 

Five days later Andres Dorantes and 
Alonso del Castillo came with those who 

had gone in quest of them. They brought 
along more than six hundred Indians, from 
the village, the people of which the Chris- 
tians had caused to flee to the woods, and 
who were in hiding about the country. 
Those who had come with us as far as that 
place had taken them cut of their places of 

concealment, turning them over to the 



Christians. They had also dispatched the 
others who had come that far. 

When they arrived at where I was Alcaraz 
begged me to send for the people of the 
Tillages along the banks of the river, who 
were hiding in the timber, and he also re- 
quested me to order them to fetch supplies. 
There was no occasion for the latter, as the 
Indians always took good care to bring us 
•whatever they could; nevertheless, we sent 
our messengers at once to call them, and six 
hundred persons came with all the maize 
they had, in pots closed with clay, which 
they had buried for concealment. They 
also brought nearly everything else they 
possessed, but we only took of the food, giv- 
ing the rest to the Christians for distribu- 
tion among themselves. 

Thereupon we had many and bitter quar- 
rels with the Qiristians, for they wanted to 
make slaves of our Indians, and we grew so 
angry at it that at our departure we forgot 
to take along many bows, pouches and ar- 
rows, also the five emeralds, and so they were 
left and lost to us. We gave the Christians 

-a great many cow-skin robes, and other ob- 



jects, and had mucK trouble in persuading 
the Ind'ians to return home and plant their 
crops in peace. They insisted upon accom- 
panying us until, according to their custom, 
we should be in the custody of other Indians, 
because otherwise they were afraid to die; 
besides, as long as we were with them, they 
had no fear of the Christians and of their 
lances. At all this the Christians were 
greatly vexed, and told their own interpre- 
ter to say to the Indians how we were of 
their own race, but had gone astray for a 
long while, and were people of no luck and 
little heart, whereas they were the lords of 
the land-, whom they should obey and serve. 
The Indians gave all that talk of theirs 
little attention. They parleyed among them- 
selves, saying that the Christians lied, for 
we had come from sunrise, while the others 
came from where the sun sets ; that we 
cured the sick, while the others killed those 
who were healthy ; that we went naked and 
shoeless, whereas the others wore clothes 
and went on horseback and with lances. 
Also, that we asked for nothing, but gave 

away all we were presented with, mean- 



while the others seemed to have no other 
aim than to steal what they could, and never 
^ave anything to anybody. In short, they 
recalled all our deeds, and praised them 
highly, contrasting them with the conduct o£ 
the others. 

This they told the interpreter of the Chris- 
tians, and made understood to the others 
by means of a language they have among 
them, and by which we understood each 
other. We call those who use that language 
properly Primahaitu, which means the same 
as saying Bizcayans. For more than four 
hundred leagues, of those we travelled, we 
found this language in use, and the only 
one among them over that extent of coun- 
-j-j-y 58 Finally, we never could convince the 
Indians that we belonged to the other Chris- 
tians, and only with much trouble and in- 
sistency could we prevail upon them to go 

We recommended to them to rest easy 

and settle again in their villages, tilling and 

"^No mention of such an idiom in Oviedo, and^ 
I do not venture any suggestion as to what <lSn-'^ 
guage it might have been. The references to the 
Basque language may mean that it was as difficult 
to understand as that idiom. 



planting their fields as usual, which, from 
lying* waste, were overgrown with shrub- 
bery, while it is beyond all doubt the best 
land in these Indies, the most fertile and 
productive of food, where they raise three 
crops every year. It has an abundance of 
fruit, very handsome rivers, and other wa- 
ters of good virtues. There are many evi- 
dences and traces of gold and silver; the 
inhabitants are well conditioned, and will- 
ingly attend to the Christians, that is, those 
of the natives that are friendly. They are 
much better inclined than the natives of 
Mexico; in short, it is a country that lacks 
nothing to make it very good. When the In- 
dians took leave of us they said they would 
do as we had told them, and settle in their 
villages, provided the Christians would not 
interfere, and so I say and affirm that, if 
they should not do it, it will be the fault of 
the Christians. 

After we had dispatched the Indians in 
peace, and with thanks for what they had 
gone through with and for us, the Chris- 
tians (out of mistrust) sent us to a certain 
Alcalde Cebreros, who had with him two 



other nien.^^ He took us through forests and 
uninhabited country in order to prevent our 
communicating with the Indians, in reaUty, 
also, to prevent us from seeing or hearing 
what the Christians were carrying on. 

This clearly shows how the designs of 
men sometimes miscarry. We went on with 
the idea of insuring the liberty of the In- 
dians, and, when we believed it to be as- 
sured, the opposite took place. The Span- 
iards had planned to fall upon those Indians 
we had sent back in fancied security and 
in peace, and that plan they carried out. 

They took us through the timber for two 
days, with no trail, bewildered and without 
water, so we all expected to die from thirst. 
Seven of our men perished, and many 
friends whom the Christians had taken 
along^^ could not reach before noon the fol- 
lowing day the place, where we found water 
that same night. We travelled with them 

"'Cebreros was another of Guzman's followers 
and disciples, as far as treatment of the Indians 
was concerned. 

*°This passage, like many others, is quite ob- 
scure. The term friends {"amigos") seems to 
indicate as if the Spaniards had had in their corn- 
pany friendly Indians who assisted them in their 
slave-hunting enterprise. 



twenty-five leagues, more or less, and at last 
came to a settlement of peaceable Indians. 
There the Alcalde left us and went ahead, 
three leagues further, to a place called Culia- 
can, where Melchor Diaz was chief Alcalde? 
and the captain of the province.^^ 

As soon as the chief Alcalde became in- 
formed of our arrival, on the same night 
he came to where we were. He was deepl}r 
moved, and praised God for having deliv- 
ered us in His great pity. He spoke to us 
and treated us very well, tendering us, in 
his name, and in behalf of the Governorj^ 
Nuiio de Guzman, all he had and whateveiT 
he might be able to do. He appeared much 
grieved at the bad reception and evil treat- 
ment we had met at the hands of Alcaraz 
and the others, and we verily believe that> 
had he been there at the time, the things 
done to us and the Indians would not have 

®^For Melchor Diaz and his career, see "The 
Journey of Coronado." He was entirely different 
from Alcaraz and Cebreros, and of uncommon 
ability and energy, while at the same time cau-» 
tious and humane. 



Passing the night there, we were about to 
leave in the morning of the next day, but 
the chief Alcalde entreated us to stay. He 
said that by remaining we would render a 
great service to God and to Your Majesty, 
as the country was depopulated, lying waste, 
and well nigh destroyed. That the Indians 
were hiding in the woods, refusing to come 
out and settle again in their villages. He 
suggested that we should have them sent 
for, and urge them, in the name of God and 
of Your Majesty, to return to the plain and 
cultivate the soil again. 

This struck us as difficult of execution. 
We had none of our Indians with us, nor 
any of those who usually accompanied us 
and understood such matters. At last we 
ventured to select two Indians from among 
those held there as captives, and who were 
from that part of the country. These had 
been with the Christians whom we first met, 
and had seen the people that came in our 
company, and knew, through the latter, of 
the great power and authority we exer- 
cised all through the land, the miracles we 

liad worked, the cures we had performed, 



and many other particulars. With these In- 
dians we sent others from the village, to 
jointly call those who had taken refuge in 
the mountains, as well as those from the 
river of Petlatlan, where we had met the 
Christians first, and tell them to come, as 
we wished to talk to them. In order to 

insure their coming, we gave the mes- 
sengers one of the large gourds we had 

carried in our hands (which were our 

chief insignia and tokens of great 


Thus provided and instructed, they left 
and were absent seven days. Then they 
came back, and with them three chiefs of 
those who had been in the mountains, and 
with these were fifteen men. They present- 
ed us with beads, turquoises, and feathers, 
and the messengers said the people from the 
river whence we had started could not be 
found, as the Christians had again driven 
them into the wilderness. 

Melchor Diaz told the interpreter to 
speak to the Indians in our name and say 
that he came in the name of God, Who is in 
heaven, and that we had travelled the world 



over for many years, telling all the people 
we met to believe in God and serve Him, for 
He was the Lord of everything upon earth. 
Who rewarded the good, whereas to the bad 
ones He meted out eternal punishment of 
iire. That when the good ones died He took 
theni up to heaven, where all lived forever 
and there was neither hunger nor thirst, nor 
any other wants — only the greatest imagin- 
able glory. But that those who would not 
believe in Him nor obey His commandments 
he thrust into a huge fire beneath the earth 
and into the company of demons, where the 
fire never went out, but tormented them for- 
ever. Moreover, he said that if they became 
Christians and served God in the manner 
we directed, the Christians would look upon 
them as brethren and treat them very well, 
while we would command that no harm 
should be done to them ; neither should they 
be taken out of their country, and the Chris- 
tians would become their great friends. If 
they refused to do so, then the Christians 
would ill treat them and carry them away 
into slavery. 

To this they replied, through the inter- 


preter, that they would be very good Chris- 
tians and serve God. 

Upon being asked who-m they worshipped 
and to whom they offered sacrifices, to 
whom they prayed for health and water for 
the fields, they said, to a man in Heaven. 
We asked what was his name, and they said 
'Aguar, and that they believed he had cre- 
ated the world and everything in it. 

We again asked how they came to know 
this, and they said their fathers and grand- 
fathers had told them, and they had known 
it for a very long time; that water and all 
good things came from him. We explained 
that this being of whom they spoke was the 
same we called God, and that thereafter they 
should give Him that name and worship and 
serve Him as we commanded, when they 
would fare very w^ll. 

They replied that they understood us 
thoroughly and would do as we had told. 

So we bade them come out of the moun- 
tains and be at ease, peaceable, and settle 
the land again, rebuilding their houses. 
Among these houses they should rear one to 
God, placing at its entrance a cross like the 



one we had, and when Christians came, thejr 
should go out to receive them with crosses 
in their hands, in place of bows aird other 
weapons, and take the Christians to their 
homes, giving them to eat of what they had. 
If they did so, the Christians would do them 
no harm, but be their friends. 

They promised to do as we ordered, and 
the captain gave them blankets, treating- 
them handsomely, and they went away, tak- 
ing along the two captives that had acted 
as our messengers. 

This took place in presence of a scribe 
(notary) and of a great many witnesses. 

As soon as the Indians had left for their 
homes and the people of that province got 
news of what had taken place with us, they, 
being friends of the Christians, came to see 
us, bringing beads and feathers. We or- 
dered them to build churches and put crosses 
in them, which until then they had not done. 
We also sent for the children of the chiefs 
to be baptized, and then the captain pledged 

himself before God not to make any raid, or 



allow any to be made, or slaves captured 
from the people and in the country we had 
set at peace again. This vow he promised 
to keep and fulfil so long until His Majesty 
and the Governor, Nuno de Guzman, or the 
Viceroy, in 1iis name, would ordain some- 
thing else better adapted to the service of 
God and of His Majesty. 

After baptizing the children we left for 
the village of San Miguel, where, on our 
arrival, Indians came and told how many 
people were coming down from the moun- 
tains, settling on the plain, building churches 
and erecting crosses; in short, complying 
with what we had sent them word to do. 
Day after day we were getting news of how 
all was being done and completed. 

Fifteen days after our arrival Alcaraz 

came in with the Christians who had been 

raiding, and they told the captain how the 

Indians had descended from the mountains 

and settled on the plain ; also that villages 

formerly deserted were now well populated, 

and how the Indians had come out to receive 

them with crosses in their hands, had taken 

them to their houses, giving them of what 



they had, and how they slept the night there. 
Amazed at these changes and at the say^ 
ings of the Indians who said they felt 
secure, he ordered that no harm be done to 
them, and with this they departed. — May 
God in His infinite mercy grant that in the 
days of Your Majesty and under your 
power and sway, these people become will- 
ingly and sincerely subjects of the true Lord 
Who created and redeemed them. We be- 
lieve they will be, and that Your Majesty is 
destined to bring it about, as it will not be 
at all difficult.«2 

For two thousand leagues did we travel, 
on land, and by sea in barges, besides ten 
months more after our rescue from captiv- 
ity ; untiringly did we walk across the land, 
but nowhere did we meet either sacrifices 
or idolatry. During all that time we crossed 
from one ocean to the other, and from what 
we very carefully ascertained there may be, 
from one coast to the other and across the 
greatest width, two hundred leagues.®^ Wef 

"The substance of the foregoing is in Oviedo, 
but most details are omitted. (Compare pp. 612 
to 614.) 

"There are manifest misprints in the distances, 
but they exist in both editions, 1542 and 1555. 



heard that on the shores of the South there 
are pearls and great wealth, and that the 
richest and best is near there. 

At the village of San Miguel we remained 
until after the fifteenth of May, because 
from there to the town of Compostela — 
where the Governor, Nuiio de Guzman, re- 
sided — ^there are one hundred leagues of de- 
serted country threatened by hostiles, and 
we had to take an escort along. There 
went with us twenty horsemen, accompany- 
ing us as many as forty leagues ; afterwards 
we had with us six Christians, who escorted 
five hundred Indian captives. When we 
reached Compostela, the Governor received 
us very well, giving us of what he had, for 
us to dress in ; but for many days I could 
bear no clothing, nor could we sleep, except 
on the bare floor. Ten or twelve days later 
we left for Mexico. On the whole trip we 
were well treated by the Christians ; many 
came to see us on the road, praising God 
for having freed us from so many dangers. 
We reached Mexico on Sunday, the day be- 
fore the vespers of Saint James, and were 

"very well received by the Viceroy and the 



Marquis of the Valley, who presented us 
with clothing, offering all they had. On the 
day of Saint James there was a festival, with, 
bull-fight and tournament. 

After taking two months' rest at Mexico 
I desired to come over to this realm, but 
when ready to sail in October, a storm, 
wrecked the vessel and it was lost. So I de- 
termined to wait until winter would be over, 
as in these parts navigation is then very 
dangerous on account of storms. 

When winter was past, Andres Dorantes 
and I left Mexico, during Lent, for Vera 
Cruz, to take a ship there, but had again to 
wait for favorable winds until Palm Sunday. 
We embarked and were on board more than 
fifteen days, unable to leave on account of a 
calm, and the vessel began to fill with water. 
I took passage on one of the ships which 
were in condition to leave, while Dorantes 
remained on the first one,®* and on the tenth 
day of the month three craft left port. 

We navigated together for one hundred 

"This explains why Dorantes remained in Mex- 
ico, where he afterwards attempted to set on foot 
an expedition to the North, but failed. 



and fifty leagues; afterwards two of the* 
ships dropped behind, and in the course of 
a night we lost track of them*. It seems that,, 
as we found out later, their pilots and skip- 
pers did not venture any further, and re- 
turned to port without giving us any warn- 
ing; neither did we hear any more from 
them. So we kept on, and on the fourth o£ 
May reached the port of Habana, on the 
Island of Cuba, where we waited until the 
second of June, still hoping for the other 
two vessels to arrive. Then we left. 

We were afraid of falling in with French 
craft that only a few days before had cap- 
tured three of ours. 

At the altitude of the Island of Bermuda 
a storm overtook us, as is quite usual in. 
those parts — according to the people who are- 
wont to travel in them — and for a whole 
night we considered ourselves lost. But it 
pleased God that, when morning came, the 
storm abated and we could proceed on our 
way. Twenty-nine days after sailing from 
Habana we had made eleven hundred 
leagues, said to be the distance from it to the 
settlement of the Azores, and the next day 



we passed the island called of the raven,®'' 
and met with a French vessel at noon. She 
began to follow us, having with her a car- 
avel taken from the Portuguese, and gave 
us chase. That same evening we saw nine 
more sail, but at such a distance that we 
could not distinguish whether they were of 
the same nation as our pursuer, or Portu- 
guese. At nightfall the Frenchman was but 
a cannon-shot from our ship, and as soon 
as it was dark we changed our course sO' 
as to get away from him. As he was 
close upon us he saw our manoeuvre and 
did the same, and this happened three or 
four times. 

The Frenchman could have taken us then, 
but he preferred to wait until daylight. It 
pleased God that, when morning came, we 
found ourselves, as well as the French ship, 
surrounded by the nine craft we had seen 
the evening before, and which turned out 
to belong to the Portuguese .navy. I thank 
Our Lord for having allowed me to escape 
from peril on land and sea. 

"Corvo, one of the Azores; northwestern 



When the French saw it was the fleet of 
Portugal they released the caravel, which 
was filled with negroes. They had taken it 
along in order to make us believe they were 
Portuguese and to induce us to expect them. 
On separating from the caravel the French- 
man told the skipper and pilot we were 
French also, belonging to their own navy; 
then they put into their vessel sixty oars- 
men, and thus, by oar and sail, went away 
with incredible swiftness. 

The caravel then approached the galley 
warning its captain that both our vessel and 
the other were French, so that when we 
came up to the galley and the squadron saw 
it, believing us to be French, they cleared 
for action and came to attack us. But when 
we were near enough to them we saluted^ 
and they saw we were friends. They had 
been deceived, suffering the privateer to es- 
cape by means of his strategy in telling that 
we were also French. Four caravels went 
in pursuit of him. Having come up with 
the galley and presented our respects, the 
captain, Diego de Silveira, asked where we 

came from and what we had on board. We 



told him from New Spain, and that we car- 
ried silver and gold. He inquired how much 
it might be, and the skipper informed him 
that we had about three hundred thousand 
Castellanos. Thereupon the captain ex- 
claimed : ''Faith, you come back very rich, 
although you have a bad craft and miserable 
artillery. That dog of a French renegade 
has lost a fat morsel, the bastard ! Now, go 
ahead, since you escaped ; follow me closely, 
and, God helping, I shall lead you back to 

The caravels that had gone in pursuit of 
the French soon returned because the latter 
mailed too fast for them and they did not 
ivant to leave their squadron, which was es- 
corting three ships loaded with spices. 

We reached the Island of Tercera,** 
where we rested fifteen days and took in 
-supplies, also waiting for another ship from 
India, with the same kind of cargo as the 
three our fleet was escorting. At the end 
of the fifteen days we sailed, all together, 
for the port of Lisbon, where we arrived 

"'Terceira, another of the Azores; central 



on the ninth of August, vespers of Saint 
Laurentius day, of the year 1537. 

And, in Testimony of, that what I have 
stated in the foregoing narrative is true, I 
hereunto sign my name : 


The document which this is taken from 
was signed with his name and bore the seal 
with his coat of arms. 

Since, in the foregoing narrative, I have 
related the Journey, the arrival at, and the 
departure from, the country, and return to 
this realm, I now wish to- tell also what hap- 
pened to the ships and to the people whc^ 
remained on board of them. I have not 
said anything about them as yet, for the rea- 
son that we heard nothing of their fate until 
after our return, when we found many of 
the survivors in New Spain and some here 
in Castile, through whom we learned every- 
thing that occurred to them after we had 
forsaken the three vessels, one having been. 

lost previously on the wild coast. 



These vessels were in great peril, and had 
on board a hundred persons with few sup- 
plies. Among these people were ten mar- 
ried women, one of whom had foretold the 
Governor many things that afterwards hap- 
pened to him. 

When he marched inland she warned him 
not to go, as neither he nor any of his com- 
pany would return, and that, should an$r 
come back, God would work miracles 
through him., as she felt sure that few, or 
none, would escape. The Governor retorted 
that he and all who went with him expected 
to fight and conquer many and very strange 
people and countries, so that, while many 
would have to die in the conquest, he was 
sure, from the accounts he had of the rich- 
ness of the country, that the survivors would 
be fortunate and become very wealthy. He 
entreated the woman to tell him who it was 
that had acquainted her with the things, past 
and present, of which she had spoken. She 
answered that in Castile a Moorish woman 
from Hprnachos had told her what she said 
to us before we left there, all of which took 

place as predicted. 



After the Governor had appointed for his 
lieutenant and commander of all the vessels 
and their crews one Carvallo, a native of 
Cuenca de Huete, we marched off, the Gov- 
ernor leaving- orders that they embark at 
once and proceed to Panuco, hugging the 
coast always and keeping a lookout for the 
port where, when found, they should wait 
for us. 

At the time the people were embarking, 
some saw, and distinctly overheard, the 
woman before mentioned saying to the other 
women that, since their husbands had gone 
inland to affront such imminent peril, they 
should not think of them any longer, but at 
once look for other husbands ; that she was 
going to do it, for her part. So she and the 
others married, and lived with those that 
were on board the vessels. 

The vessels set sail and went on, but did 

not find the port in the direction they were 

proceeding, so they turned around and went 

back where, five leagues further down from 

our landing-place, they struck the harbor. 

It stretched inland for seven or eight leagues 

and was the one we had already discovered 



^nd where we had found the boxes from 
Spain, as told before, and where were the 
l)odies of Christians. From this harbor and 
along that coast the three vessels, together 
with one that rejoined them from Habana 
and the brigantine, cruised in search of us 
for nearly a year, and then, not finding us, 
they went to New Spain. 

That harbor is the best on earth. It 
sweeps inland for seven of eight leagues; 
the water is six fathoms deep at the mouth 
and five near the shore ; the bottom is mud, 
and there are no tides inside the bay, nor 
heavy storms. There is space in it for many 
vessels, and it has many fish. The distance 
from it to Habana, a Christian town on 
Cuba, is one hundred leagues on a line from 
north to south. The breezes are constant, 
and the trip is made from one place to the 
other in four days, because the vessels go 
and come with little trouble. 

And now that I have given an account of 
the ships, it may be well to record also who 
those are and where from, whom it pleased 
God to rescue from all these dangers and 

hardship. The first is Alonso del Castillo 



Maldonado, a native of Salamanca and son 
of Doctor Castillo and Dona Aldonza Mal- 
donado. The second is Andres Dorantes, 
son of Pablo Dorantes, born at Bejar, but 
a resident of Gibraleon. The third is Alvar 
Nufiez Cabeza de Vaca, son of Francisco de 
Vera and grandson of Pedro de Vera, who 
conquered the Canarian Islands. His mo- 
ther was called Dofia Teresa Cabeza de 
Vaca, and she was a native of Xerez de la 
Frontera. The fourth was Estevanico, an 
Arab negro from Azamor, 


ttmdrefellamauaoona ^ermcabe^a&e vslc^ natu« 
raloe a^ere30elafrontera*l£I quarto feUama l£(leua^ 
mco C0 oe^ro :^farabe natural ocB5anio;»u 

Cf ucimpzefibd ptefentctra^ 

td(^enlatDagnifiLca''nob!e'^tdntiqmfruna ^'udad 

oeXgmo;atp o:tog bonrradog varoneg^go* 

(lint)epa5Y^uaniMcardo compafleros inp 

p2c(ro2e0oelibto0 r^no0 ocia Qtcba ((a 


ron^uan pedro muTettt mercadcr 

Oelib:o0ve3tno)}e'^edina ^el 

campo* HcabofeenfeY^t^iaff 

Od me0tde^tub:r* 2(iio 


oadot^da Crillooc 




Keduced from original in Lenox Branch of N. Y# 
Public Library. 


N order to furnish the reader the avail- 
able data concerning the fate of the 
two companions of Cabeza de Vaca, 
who remained in Mexico after his 
return to Spain, it has been deemed proper 
to add the two documents which follow. 
There is first a letter of the Viceroy Don 
Antonio de Mendoza in which, as far as I 
am able to ascertain, the only (very meagre) 
data concerning the subsequent career of 
Andres Dorantes in America are found. 
This is followed by the well-known report 
of Father Marcos of Nizza on his expedition 
to Cibola (Zuiii), in which the Moor Este- 
vanico acted as his guide and perished. The 
text of the documents is taken from- the 
edition of 1810 of ''Hackluyt's Collection of 
the Early Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries 
of the English Nation," Vol. III., pp. 436 
to 4446. The translation is known to- be 
quite indifferent, still the main points are 
reliable and it fully serves the purpose, 
which is not to furnish a critical study of 
Father Marcos of Nizza, and his achieve- 
ments, but simply to supply the information 
indicated, and, at the same time, establish 
the logical connection of this narrative with 
the "Journey of Coronado,'' already pre- 
sented in 'The Trail-Makers." 

Ad. F. Bandelier. 



Of Certaine Noblemen Which Sought to Dis- 
cover the End of the Firme Land of Nueva 
Espanna Toward the North. The Arrivall of 
Vazquez de Coronado with Frier Marco at S. 
Michael of Culiacan, with Commission to the 
Governors of Those Partes, to Pacifie the Indians, 
anl Not to Make Them Slaves Any More. 

IN the ships that went last from hence 
(whereof Michael de Usnago was 
Admiral) I wrote into your maies- 
tie, how I had sent two Franciscan 
Friers to discover the end of this firme 
land, which stretcheth to the North. 
And because their iourney fell out to 
greater purpose than was looked for, I 
will declare the whole matter from the be- 
ginning. It may please your Maiestie to 
call to mind how often I wrote unto your 
Highnesse, that I desired to know the ende 
of this Province of Nueva Espanna, because 
it is so great a countrey, and that we have 
yet no knowledge thereof. Neither had I 
onely this desire ; for Nunno de Guzman de- 
parted out of this city of Mexico with 400 
horsemen, and 14,000 Indians footemen 
borne in these Indias, being the best men 
and the best furnished, which have bene 
scene in these parts ; and he did so little with 



them, that the. most part of them were con- 
sumed in the enterprize and could not enter 
nor discover any more then already was dis- 
covered. After this the saide Nunno Guz- 
man- beeing- Governour of Nueva Galicia, 
sent Captaines and Horsemen foorth- divers 
times, which sped no better then he had 
done. Likewise the Marques de valle Her- 
nando Cortez sent a captaine with 2 ships 
to discover the coast : which- 2 ships and the 
captaine perished. After that he sent again 
2 other ships, one of the which was divided 
from her consort, and the master and cer- 
taine mariners slue the captaine and usurped 
over the ship. 

After this they came to an Island, where 
the Master with certaine mariners going on 
land, the Indians of the Country slew them, 
and tooke their boat : and the ship with 
those that were in it, returned to the coast 
of Nueva Galicia, where it ran on ground. 
By the men which came home in this ship, 
the Marques had knowledge of the countrey 
which they had discovered : and then, either 
fo'r the discontentment which hee had with 
the bishop of Saint Domingo and with the 
Judges of this royal audience in Mexico, or 
rather because of his so prosperous successe 
in all things here in Nueva Espanna, with- 
out seeking any farther intelligence of the 
state of that Island, he set forward on that 
voyage" with 3 ships, and with certaine foote- 
men and horsemen, not throughly furnished 
with things necessary ; which fell out so con- 
trary to his expectations that the most part 
of the people which he carried with him, 



dyed of hunger. And although he had 
ships, and a Countrey very neere him 
abounding with victuals, yet could hee never 
finde meanes to conquer it, but rather it 
seemed, that God miraculously did hide it 
from him: and so he returned home without 
achieving ought else of moment. After 
this, having heere in my company Andrew 
Dorantez, which is one of those who were in 
the voyage of Panphilo Naruaez, I often was 
in hand with him, supposing that he was 
able to doe Your Maiestie great service, to 
imploy him with fortie or fiftie horses, to 
search out the secret of those parts : and 
having provided all things necessary for his 
iourney, and spent much money in that be- 
(halfe, the matter was broken off, I wot not 
how, and that enterprise was given over. 
Yet of the things which were provided for 
that purpose, I had left mee a negro, which 
returned from the foresayde voyage of 
Naruaez with Dorantez, and certaine slaves 
"which I had bought, and certaine Indians 
which I had gathered together who were 
borne in those North partes, whome I sent 
with Frier Marco de Niga, and his compan- 
ion a Franciscan Frier, because they had 
bene long travelled, and exercised in those 
partes, and had great experience in the af- 
faires of the Indies, and were men of good 
life and conscience, for whom I obtained 
leave of their superiours : and so they went 
with Frances Vazquez de Coronado, gov- 
ernour of Nueva Galicia unto the Citie of 
Saint Michael of Culiacan, which is the last 
Province subdued by the Spaniards towarde 



that quarter, being two hundred leagues dis- 
tant from this Citie of Mexico. As soone 
as the governour, and the Friers were come 
unto that Citie, hee sent certaine of those 
Indians which I had given him, home into 
their Countrey, to signifie, and declare to 
the people of the same, That they were to 
vnderstand, that youf Maiestie had com- 
manded they should not hereafter bee made 
slaves, and that they should not be afrayd 
any more, but might returne unto their 
houses, and live peaceably in them, (for be- 
fore that time they had bin greatly troubled 
by the evill dealings which were used 
toward them) and that your maiestie would 
cause them to be chastened, which were the 
causes of their vexation. With these In- 
dians about twentie dayes after returned 
about 400 men ; which coming before the 
governour said unto him, that they came on 
the behalf e of al their countrey-men, to tell 
him, that they desired to see and know those 
men which did them so great a pleasure as 
to suffer them to returne to their houses, 
and to sow maiz for their sustenance, for by 
the space of many yeres they were driven to 
flee into the mountaines, hiding themselves 
like wild beasts, for feare lest they should be 
made slaves, and that they and all the rest 
of their people were ready to doe whatsoever 
should bee commanded them : whom the 
governour comforted with good wordes, and 
gave them victuals, and stayed them with 
him three or foure dayes wherein the Friars 
taught them to make the signe of the crosse, 
and to learne the name of our Lorde Jesus 



Christ, and they with great diligence sought 
to learne the same. After these dayes hee 
sent them home againe, willing them not to 
be afraid, but to be quiet, giving them ap- 
parel, beades, knives, and other such like 
things, which I had given him' for such pur- 
poses. The sayde Indians departed very 
well pleased, and said, that whensoever hee 
would send for them, they and many others 
would come to doe whatsoever he would 
command them. The entrance being thus 
prepared. Frier Marco and his companion, 
with the Negro and other slaves, and In- 
dians which I had given him, went forward 
on their voyage lo or 12 dayes after. And 
because I had likewise advertisement of a 
certaine Province called Topira situate in the 
mountaines and had appointed the gov- 
ernour Vazquez de Coronado, that he should 
use meanes to learne the state thereof: he 
supposing this to be a matter of great mo- 
ment determined himself e to goe and search 
it, having agreed with the said Frier, that he 
should returne by that part of the moun- 
taine, to meete with him in a certaine valley 
called Valle de los Coragones, being 120 
leagues distant from Culiacan. The Gov- 
emour travelling into this province (as I 
have written in my former letters) found 
great scarcity of victuals there, and the 
mountaines so craggy, that he could finde no 
way to passe forward, and was inforced to 
returne home to Saint Michael : so that as 
well in chusing of the entrance, as in not 
being able to finde the way, it seemeth onto 
all men that God would shut up the gate to 



all those, whi-ch by strength of humane 
force have gone about to attempt this enter- 
prise, and hath reveiled it to a poore and 
bare-footed Frier. And so the Frier be- 
ganne to enter into the Land, who because 
he found his entrance so well prepared, was 
very well received ; and because he wrote 
the whole successe of his voyage, according 
to the instruction which I had given him to 
ondertake the same, I wil not write any 
more at large, but send your Maiestie this 
copy of all such things as he observed in the 




Frier Marco de Niga Departeth from Saint 
Michael in the Province of Cuhacan, Standing in 
24. Degrees of Northerly Latitude : and Coming 
to the Towne of Petatlan, Receiveth Many Cour- 
tesies of the Indians There. Departing from 
Thence, He Had Information of Many Islands, 
and of a Great Countrey Inhabited with Civil 
People; He Cometh to Vacupa: Where During 
His Aboad, He Heard Newes of Cevola, and of 
the State of the 7 Cities, and of Other Provinces, 
and of the Rich Islands of Perles, which Extend 
Northward Upon the Coast. 

order of S. Francis, for the execu- 
tion of the instruction of the right 
honourable lord Don Antonio de 
Mendoga, Vice-roy and captaine Gen- 
erall for the Emperors Maiestie in New 
Spaine, departed from the towne of S. 
Michael in the province of Culiacan on Fri- 
day the 7. of March, in the yeere 1539. hav- 
ing for my companion Frier Honoratus, and 
carying with me Stephan a Negro, belonging 
to Andrew Dorantez, and certaine of those 



Indians which the sayde lord Vice-roy had 
made free, and bought for this purpose: 
whom Frances Vazquez de Coronado gov- 
ernour of Nueva Galicia dehvered me, and 
with many other Indians of Petatlan, and 
of the towne called Cuchillo, which is some 
50. leagues from Petatlan, who came to the 
valley of Culiacan, shewing themselves to 
bee exceeding glad, because they were cer- 
tified by the Indians which had bin set free, 
whom the said governour had sent before 
to advertise them of their libertie, that none 
of them from thenceforth should be made 
slaves, and that no man should invade them, 
nor use them badly; signifying onto them, 
that the Emperors Maiesty had willed and 
commanded that it should be so. With the 
foresaid company I went on my voyage 
vntil I came to the towne of Petatlan, find- 
ing all the way great intertainment, and 
provision of victuals, with roses, flowers, 
and other such things, and bowers which 
they made for me of chalke and boughs 
platted together in*all places where there 
were no houses. In this towne of Petatlan 
I rested 3. dayes, because my companion 
Honoratus fell so sicke, that I was con- 
strained to leave him there behinde. 

Then, according to my said instruction, I 
followed my iourney as the holy Ghost did 
leade me, without any merit of mine, having 
in my company the said Stephan the Negro, 
Dorantez, and certaine of the Indians which 
had bin set at liberty, and many of the people 
of the countrey, which gave me great inter- 
tainment and welcome in all places where I 



came, and made mee bowers of trees, giving 
me such victuals as they had, although they 
were but small : because (as they said) it 
had not rained there in 3 yeres, and be- 
cause the Indians of this countrey sought 
means rather to hide themselves, then to 
sowe come, for feare of the Christians of 
the Towne of S. Michael, which were wont 
to make in-roades even to that place, and 
to warre upon them, and to carry them away 
captives. In all this way, which may be 
about 25 or 30. leagues from that part of 
Petatlan, I saw nothing worthy the noting, 
save that there came to seeke me certaine 
Indians from the Island, where Fernando 
Cortez the Marques of the valley had bin, of 
whom I was informed, that it was an Island, 
and not firme land, as some suppose it to be. 
They came to y*^ firme land upon certaine 
rafts of wood: and from the maine to the 
island is but halfe a league by sea, little 
more or lesse. Likewise certaine Indians 
of another island greater then this came 
to visit me, which island is farther off, of 
whom I was informed that there were 30. 
other small islands, which were inhabited, 
but had smal store of victuals, saving 2. 
which have maiz or come of the countrey. 
These Indians had about their necks many 
great shels which were mother of Pearle. I 
shewed them pearles which I carryed with 
me for a shew, and they told me that there 
were in the Islands great store of them, and 
those very great: howbeit I saw none of 
them. I followed my voyage through a 
desert of 4 dayes iourney, having in my 



company both the Indians of the islands and 
those of the mountaines which I had passed, 
and at the end of this desert I found other 
Indians which marvelled to see me, because 
they had no knowledge of any Christians, 
having no traffike nor conversation with 
those Indians which I had passed, in regard 
of the great desert which was between them. 
These Indians intertained me exceeding 
courteously, and gave me great store of 
victuals and sought to touch my garments 
and called me Hagota, which in their lan- 
guage signifieth A man come from heaven. 
These Indians I advertised by my inter- 
preter, according to my instructions, in the 
Knowledge of our Lord God in heaven, and 
of the Emperor. In these countries and in 
all places els by all wayes and meanes pos- 
sible, I sought information where any 
Countreys were of more Cities and people of 
civilitie and onderstanding, then those which 
I had found : and I could heare no newes of 
any such : howbeit they tolde mee, that foure 
or five dayes ioumey within the Countrey, at 
the foote of the mountaines, there is a large 
and mightie plaine, wherein they tolde mee, 
that there were many great Townes, and 
people clad in Cotton : and when I shewed 
them certaine metals which I carryed with 
mee, to learne what riche metals were in 
the Lande, they tooke the minerall of Golde 
and tolde mee, that thereof were vesselles 
among the people of that plaine, and that 
they carryed certaine round greene stones 
hanging at their nostrilles, and at their 
eares, and that they have certaine thinne 



plates of that Golde, wherewith they scrape 
off their sweat, and that the walks of their 
Temples are covered therewith, and that 
they use it in all their household vessels. 
And because this Valley is distant from the 
Sea-coast, and my instruction was not to 
leave the Coast, I determined to leave the 
discovery thereof ontill my returne; at 
which time I might doe it more commo- 

Thus I travelled three dayes iourney 
through Townes inhabited by the sayde peo- 
ple, of whome I was received as I was of 
those which I had passed, and came onto a 
Towne of reasonable bignesse, called Va- 
cupa, where they shewed mee great cour- 
tesies, and gave mee great store of good 
victuals, because the soyle is very fruitfull, 
and may bee watered. This Towne is fortie 
leagues distant from the Sea. 

And because I was so farre from the Sea, 
it being two dayes before Passion Sunday, 
I determined to stay there until Easter, to 
informe myselfe of the Islandes, whereof I 
sayde before that I had information. And 
so I sent certaine Indians to the Sea by 
three severall wayes whom I commaunded 
to bring mee some Indians of the Sea-coast 
and of some of those Islandes that I might 
receive information of them: And I sent 
Stephan Dorantez the Negro another way, 
whom I commaunded to goe directly north- 
ward fiftie or threescore leagues, to see if 
by that way hee might learne any newes of 
any notable thing which wee sought to dis- 
cover, and I agreed with him, that if hee 



found any knowledge of any peopled and 
riche countrey which were of great im- 
portance, that hee should goe no further but 
should returne in person, or should sende 
mee certaine Indians with that token which 
wee were agreed upon, to wit, that if it were 
but a meane thing, hee should sende mee a 
White Crosse of one handfull long; and if 
it were any great matter, one of two hand- 
f uls long ; and if it were a Countrey greater 
and better then Nueva Espanna, hee should 
send mee a great crosse. So the sayde 
Stephan departed from mee on Passion-sun- 
day after dinner; and within foure dayes 
after the messengers of Stephan returned 
vnto me with a great Crosse as high as a 
man, and they brought me word from 
Stephan, that I should forthwith come away 
after him, for hee had found people which 
gave him information of a very mighty 
Province, and that he had certaine Indians 
in his company, which had bene in the sayd 
Province, and that he had sent me one of 
the said Indians. This Indian told me, that 
it was thirtie dayes ioumey from the Towne 
where Stephan was, vnto the first Citie of 
the sayde Province, which is called Ceuola. 
Hee affirmed also that there are seven great 
Cities in this Province, all vnder one Lord, 
the houses whereof are made of Lyme & 
Stone, and are very great, and the least of 
them with one lofte above head, and some 
two and of three loftes, and the house of the 
Lorde of the Province of foure, and that 
all of them ioyne one onto the other in good 
order, and that in the gates of the principall 



houses there are many Turques-stones cun- 
ningly wrought, whereof hee sayth they 
'have there great plentie : also that the people 
of this Citie goe very well apparelled : and 
that beyond this there are other Provinces, 
all which (hee sayth) are much greater then 
these seven cities. I gave credite to his 
speach because I found him to bee a man of 
good vnderstanding: but I deferred my de- 
parture to follow Stephan Dorantez, both 
because I thought hee would stay for mee, 
and also to attend the retume of my mes- 
sengers which I had sent vnto the Sea, who 
returned vnto me upon Easter day, bringing 
with them certaine inhabitants of the Sea- 
coast, and of two of the Islands. Of whom 
I vnderstoode, that the Islandes above men- 
tioned were scarce of victuals, as I had 
learned before, and that they are inhabited 
by people, which weare shelles of Pearles 
upon their foreheads, and they say that they 
have great Pearles, and much Golde. They 
informed mee of foure and thirtie Islandes, 
lying one neere vnto another : they say that 
the people on the sea-coast have small store 
of victuals, as also those of the Islandes, and 
that they trafficke one with the other upon 
raftes. This coast stretcheth northward as 
is to bee scene. These Indians of the Coast 
brought me certaine Targets made of Cow- 
hydes very well dressed, which were so 
large, that they covered them from the head 
to the very foote, with a hole in the toppe 
of the same to looke out before : they are so 
strong, that a Crossebow (as I suppose) will 
not pierce them. 




He Hath New Information of the Seven Cities 
by Certaine Indians Called Pintados, and of Three 
Other Kingdomes Called Marata, Acus, and To- 
tonteac, Being Countreys Very Rich in Turqueses 
and Hides of Cattel. Following His Voyage 
Through Those Countries He Taketh Possession 
Thereof for the Emperors Maiestie, and of the 
Indians Is Much Honoured and Served with 

THE same day came three Indians 
of those which I called Pintados, 
because I saw their faces, breasts 
and armes painted. These dwel 
farther up into the countrey towards the 
East, and some of them border upon the 
seven cities, which sayd they came to see 
mee, because they had heard of mee: and 
among other things they gave me informa- 
tion of the seven cities, and of the other 
Provinces, which the Indian that Stephan 
sent me had tolde mee of, almost in the very 
same manner that Stephan had sent mee 
worde ; and so I sent backe the people of the 
sea-coast: and two Indians of the Islands 
sayde they would goe with mee seven or 
eight dayes. 

So with these and with the three Pintados 
above mentioned, I departed from Vacupa 
upon Easter Tuesday, the same way that 
Stephan went, from whom I received new 
messengers with a crosse of the bignesse of 



the first which he sent me : which hastened 
me forward, and assured me that the land 
which I sought for, was the greatest and 
best countrey in all those partes. The sayd 
messengers told mee particularly without 
fayling in any one poynt, all that which the 
first messenger had tolde mee, and much 
more, and gave mee more plaine informa- 
tion thereof. So I travelled that day being 
Easter Tuesday, and two dayes more, the 
very same way that Stephan had gone : at 
the end of which 3 dayes they tolde mee that 
from that place a man might travell in thir- 
tie dayes to the citie of Ceuola, which is the 
first of the seven. Neither did one onely tell 
me thus much, but very many ; who tolde me 
very particularly of the greatness of the 
houses, and of the fashion of them, as the 
first messengers had informed me. Also 
they told me, that besides these seven Cities, 
there are 3 other Kingdomes which are 
called Marata, Acus and Tontonteac. I en- 
quired of them wherefore they travelled so 
farre from their houses: They said that 
they went for Turqueses, and Hides of 
Kine, and other things ; and that of all these 
there was great abundance in this Coun- 
trey. Likewise I enquired how, and by 
what meanes they obtained these things : 
They tolde me, by their service and by the 
sweat of their browes, and that they went 
unto the first citie of the province which is 
called Ceuola, and that they served them in 
tilling their ground, and in other businesses, 
and that they give them Hydes of oxen, 
which they have in those places, and tur- 



queses for their service, and that the people 
of this city weare very fine and excellent 
turqueses hanging at their eares and at their 
nostrils. They say also, that of these tur- 
queses they make fine v/orkes upon the 
principall gates of the houses of this citie. 
They tolde mee, that the apparell which the 
inhabitants of Ceuola weare, is a gowne of 
cotten downe to the foote, with a button at 
the necke, and a long string hanging downe 
at the same, and that the sleeves of these 
gownes are as broad beneath as above. They 
say, they gyrded themselves with gyrdles of 
turqueses, and that over these coates some 
weare good apparel, others hides of Kine 
very well dressed, which they take to bee 
the best apparell of that countrey, whereof 
they have there great quantitie. Likewise 
the women goe apparelled, and covered 
downe to the foote. These Indians gave me 
very good intertainment, ana curiously en- 
quired the day of my departure from Va- 
cupa, that at my returne they might provide 
me of foode and lodging. They brought 
certaine sicke folkes before mee, that I 
might heale them, and sought to touch my 
apparell, and gave mee certaine cow-hydes 
so well trimmed and dressed, that by them 
a man might coniecture that they were 
wrought by civile people, and all of them 
affirmed, that they came from Ceuola. 

The next day I followed my iourney, and 
carrying with mee the Pintados, I came to 
another Village where I was well received 
by the i>eople of the same: who likewise 
sought to touch my garments, and gave mee 



"as particular knowledge of the Lande afore- 
saide, as I had received of those which 
mette mee before: and also tolde mee, that 
from that place certaine people were gone 
with Stephan Dorantez, foure or five dayes 
iourney. And here I found a great crosse, 
which Stephan had left mee for a signe, that 
the newes of the good Countrey increased, 
and left worde, that with all haste they 
should send mee away, and that hee would 
stay for me at the ende of the first Desert 
that he mette with. Heere I set up two 
Crosses, and tooke possession according to 
mine instruction, because that the Countrey 
seemed better unto mee then that which I 
had passed, and that I thought it meete to 
make ar» acte of possession as farre as that 

In this maner I travailed five dayes, al- 
wayes finding inhabited places with great 
hospitalitie and intertainments, and many 
Turqueses, and Oxe-hides, and the like re- 
port concerning the countrey. Heere I un- 
derstood, that after two dayes iourney I 
should finde a desert where there is no 
foode, but that there were certaine gone be- 
fore to build mee lodgings, and to carrie 
foode for me : whereupon I hastened my 
way, hoping to finde Stephan at the ende 
thereof, because in that place hee had left 
worde that hee would stay for mee. Before 
I came to the desert, I mette with a very 
pleasant Towne, by reason of great store of 
waters conveighed thither to water the same. 
Heere I mette with many people both men 
& women clothed in Cotton, and some cov- 



ered with oxe-hydes, which generally they 
take for better apparell then that of cotton. 
All the people in this village go in ca- 
conados, that is to say, Turquesses hanging 
at their nostrilles and eares, which Tur- 
quesses they call Cacona. Amongst others, 
the Lord of this Village came unto me ; and 
two of his brethern, very well apparrelled 
in cotton, who also were in Caconados, each 
of them having his collar of Turquesses 
about his necke; and they presented unto 
mee many wild beastes, as conies, quailes, 
Maiz nuttes of Pine trees, and all in great 
abundance, and offered me many Turqueses, 
and dressed Oxe-hydes, and very fayre ves- 
sels to drinke in, and other things ; whereof 
I would receive no whit. And having my 
garment of gray cloth, which in Spaine is 
called garagoQa, the Lord of this Village and 
the other Indians touched my gowne with 
their handes, and tolde mee, that of such 
cloth there was great store in Tontonteac, 
and that the people of that Countrey wore 
the same. Whereat I laughed, and sayde 
that it was nothing else but such apparell 
of Cotton as they wore. And they replyed : 
We would have thee thinke that we vnder- 
stand, that that apparell which thou wearest, 
and that which we weare are of divers 
sortes. Understand thou, that in Ceulo all 
the houses are full of that apparrell which we 
weare, but in Totonteac there are certaine 
litle beasts, from whom they take that thing 
wherewith such apparell as thou wearest is 
made. I prayed them to informe mee more 
playnely of this matter. And they tolde mee 



that the sayde beastes were about the big- 
nesses of the two braches or spaniels which 
Stephan caryed with him, and they say that 
there is great store of that cattell in To- 




He Entreth into a Desert, and the Indians 
Suffer Him to Want Nothing Necessary. Fol- 
lowing His Voyage, He Commeth into a Fertile 
Valley, and Hath Certaine Knowledge Given Him 
(as He Had Before) of the State of Ceuola, and 
of Totonteac; and That the Coast of the Sea in 
35. Degrees Trendeth Much to the Westward; 
and Also the Kingdomes of Mavata and Acus. 

THE next day I entered into the 
Desert, and where I was to dine, 
I found bowers made, and victuals 
in abundance by a rivers side : and 
at night I found bowers and victuals in like 
sort, and after that maner I found for 4 
dayes travell : all which time the wildemesse 

At the ende of these foure dayes, I entred 
into a valley very well inhabited with people. 
At the first village there mette me many 
men and women with victuals and all of 
them had Turqueses hanging at their nos- 
trils and eares, and som^ had collars of 
turqueses like those which the Lord of the 
Village before I came to the Desert, and 
his two brethern wore: saving that they 
ware them but single about their neckes, 
and these people weare them three or foure 
times double, and goe in good apparrell, and 
skinnes of Oxen : and the women weare 
of the said Turqueses at their nostrils and 



eares, and very good wast-coates and other 
garments. Heere there was as great Knowl- 
edge of Ceula, as in Nueva Espanna of 
Temistitan, and in Peru of Cuzco; and they 
tolde us particularly the maner of their 
houses, lodgings, streetes and market-places, 
as men that had bene oftentimes there, and 
as those which were furnished from thence 
with things necessary for the service of their 
householde, as those also had done, which I 
already had passed. I told them it was im- 
possible that the houses should be made in 
such sort as they informed mee, and they 
for my better vnderstanding tooke earth or 
ashes, and poured water thereupon, and 
shewed me how they layd stones upon it, 
and how the buylding grewe up, as they con- 
tinued laying stones thereon, vntill it mount- 
ed aloft. I asked them whether the men of 
that countrey had wings to mount up unto 
those loftes; whereat they laughed, and 
showed mee a Ladder in as good sort as 
I myselfe was able to describe it. Then 
they tooke a StafTe and helde it over their 
heads, and said that the lofts were so high 
one above another. Likewise heere I had 
information of the woollen cloth of Toton- 
teac, where they say are houses like those 
of Ceuola, and better and more in number, 
and that it is a great Province, and hath 
no governour. Here I onderstood that the 
coast of the sea trended much toward the 
West; for vnto the entrance of this first 
desert which I passed, the coast still 
stretched Northward ;and because the trend- 
ing of the coast is a thing of great impor- 



tance, I was desirous to Knowe and see it; 
and I saw plainely, that in 35. degrees the 
coast stretcheth to the West, whereat I re- 
ioyced no lesse, then of the good newes 
within land, and so I returned back to pro- 
ceede on my iourney. 

Through the foresayd valley I travailed 
five dayes iourney, which is inhabited with 
goodly people, and so aboundeth with vic- 
tuals, that it sufficieth to feede above three 
thousand horsemen: it is all well watered 
and like a garden : the burroughs and 
townes are halfe and a quarter of a league 
long, and in all these villages, I found very 
ample report of Ceuola, whereof they made 
such particular relation onto me, as people 
which go yeerely thither to earne their liv- 
ing. Here I found a man borne in Ceuola, 
who told me that he came thither, having 
escaped from the governour or Lieutenant 
of the towne; for the Lord of these seven 
Cities liveth and abideth in one of those 
townes called Abacus, and in the rest he 
appoynteth lieu-tenants under him. This 
townesman of Ceuola is a white man of a 
good complexion, somewhat well in yeeres, 
and of fame greater capacitie then the in- 
habitants of this valley, or then those which 
I had left behind me. Hee sayde that hee 
would goe with mee, that I might begge his 
pardon: and of him I learned many par- 
ticulars : he tolde me that Ceuola was a great 
Citie, inhabited with great store of people, 
and having many streetes and market- 
places: and that in some parts of this Citie 
there are certaine very great houses of live 



stories high, wherein the chiefe of the Citie 
assemble themselves at certaine dayes of the 
yeere. He sayeth that the houses are of 
Lyme and Stone, according as others had 
tolde mee before, and that the gates, and 
small pillars of the principall houses are of 
Turqueses, and all the vesseh wherein they 
are served, and the other ornaments of their 
houses were of golde : and that the other 
sixe Cities are built like onto this, whereof 
some are bigger: and that Abacus is the 
chiefest of them. Hee sayth that toward 
the Southeast there is a Kingdome called 
Marata, and that there were woont to be 
many, and those great Cities, which were 
all built of houses of Stone, with divers 
lofts : and that these have and doe wage 
warre with the Lord of the seven Cities, 
through which warre this Kingdome of Ma- 
rata is for the most part wasted, although 
it yet continueth and maintaineth warre 
against the other. 

Likewise he saith, that the Kingdome 
called Totonteac lyeth toward the West, 
which he saith is a very mightie Province, 
replenished with infinite store of people and 
riches. And that in the sayde Kingdome 
they weare woollen cloth like that which 
I weare, and other finer sorts of woollen 
cloth made of the fleeces of those beastes 
which they described before onto me : and 
that they are a very civile people. More- 
over hee tolde me, that there is another 
great Province and Kingdome called Acus; 
for there is Acus, and Abacus with an 
aspiration, which is the principall of the 



ceven cities : and Acus without .an aspiration 
is a Kingdome and Province of it selfe. He 
told me also, that the apparrel which they 
weare in Ceuola is after the same maner 
as they before had certified me, and that 
all the inhabitants of the Citie lie upon 
beddes raysed a good height from the 
ground, with quilts and canopies over them, 
which cover the sayde Beds : and hee tolde 
mee that hee would goe with me to Ceuola 
and farther also, if I would take him with 
me. The like relation was given vnto me 
in this towne by many others, but not so 
particularly. I travelled three dayes iourney 
through this valley : the inhabitants whereof 
made me exceeding great cheere and inter- 
tainment. In this valley I saw above a thou- 
sand Oxe-hides most excellently trimmed 
and dressed. And here also I saw farre 
greater store of Turqueses and chaines made 
thereof, then in all places which I had 
passed ; and they say, that all commeth from 
the city of Ceuola whereof they have great 
Knowledge, as also of the Kingdome of 
Marata and of the Kingdomes of Acus and 




Of a Very Great Beast with One Home Upon 
His Fore-head; and of the Courtesies which the 
Indians Shewed Frier Marcus of Ni^a, in His 
Voyage. Also How Cruelly Stephan Doraniez 
and His Companions Were Used Upon Their 
Arrivall at Ceuola, by the Lorde Thereof. 

ERE they shewed me an hide halfe 
as bigge againe as the hide of 
a great oxe, and tolde me that 
it was the skin of a beast which 
had but one home upon his forehead, 
and that this home bendeth toward his 
breast, and that out of the same goeth a 
point right forward, wherein he hath so 
great strength, that it will breake any thing 
how strong so ever it be, if he runne against 
it, and that there are great store of these 
beasts in that Cbuntrey. The colour of the 
hide is of the colour of a great Goat-skin, 
and the haire is a finger thicke. Here I had 
messengers from Stephan which brought 
me word, that by this time "he was come to 
the farthest part of the desert, and that he 
v/as very ioyful, because the farther he went, 
the more perfect Knowledge he had of the 
greatnesse of the countrey, and sent me 
word, that since his departure from me, hee 
never had found the Indians in any lye ; for 
even vnto that very place he had found al 
in such maner as they had informed him 



and hoped that he should find the like at his 
arrivall in- the valley which he was going 
vnto, as he had found in the villages before 
passed. I set up crosses and used those acts 
and ceremonies, which were to be done ac- 
cording to my instructions. The inhabitants 
requested me to stay here three or foure 
days, because that from this place there were 
four days iourney vnto the desert, and from 
the first entrance into the same desert vnto 
the citie of Ceuola are 15 great dayes iour- 
ney more; also that they would provide vic- 
tuals, for me and other necessaries for that 
voyage. Likewise they told me, that with 
Stephan the Negro were gone above 300 
men to beare him company, and to carry 
victuals after him, and that in like sort many 
of them would go with me to serve me, 
because they hoped to returne home rich. I 
thanked them, and willed them to set things 
in order with speede, and so I rested there 
three dayes, wherein I always informed my 
selfe of Ceuola, and of as many other things 
as I could learne, and called many Indians 
vnto mee, and examined them severally and 
all of them agreed in one tale, and told me 
of the great multitude of people, and of the 
order of the streetes, of the greatnesse of 
the "houses, and of the strength of the gates, 
agreeing altogether with that which the rest 
before had told me. After three dayes many 
assembled themselves to go with me, 30 of 
the principal of whom I tooke, being very 
well apparrelled, and with chaines of tur- 
queses, which some of them weare five or 
sixe times double, and other people to cary 



things necessary for them and me, and so 
set forward on my voyage. 

Thus I entred into the second desert on 
the 9 of May, and travelled the first day 
by a very broad and beaten way, and we 
came to diner vnto a water, where the In- 
dians had made provision for me; and at 
night we came to another water, where I 
found a house which they had fully made 
up for me, and another house stood made 
where Stephan lodged when he passed that 
way, and many old cottages and many signes 
of fire which the people had made that 
travelled to Ceuola by this way. In this 
sort I travelled 12 dayes iourney being al- 
way well provided of victuals, of wild beasts. 
Hares, and Partridges of the same colour 
and tast with those of Spaine although they 
are not as big, for they be somewhat lesse. 
Here met us an Indian the sonne of the 
chiefe man that accompanied mee, which 
had gone before with Stephan, who came in 
a great fright, having his face and body all 
covered with sweat, and shewing exceeding 
sadnesse in his countenance; and he told 
mee that a dayes iourney before Stephan 
came to Ceuola he sent his great mace made 
of a gourd by his messenges, as he was al- 
ways woont to send them before him, that 
hee might knowe in what sort hee came 
onto them, which gourd has a string of 
belles upon it, and two feathers one white 
and another red, in token that he demanded 
safe conduct, and that he came peaceably. 
And when they came to Ceuola before the 
magistrate, which the Lord of the citie had 



placed there for his Lieutenant, they deliv- 
ered him the sayde great gourd, who tooke 
the same in his hands, and after he spyed 
the belles, in a great rage and fury he cast 
it to the ground, and willed messengers to 
get them packing with speed, for he knew 
well ynough what people they were, and 
that they should will them in no case to 
enter into the citie, for if they did hee would 
put them all to death. The messengers re- 
turned and tolde Stephan how things had 
passed, who answered them that it made no 
great matter, and would needes proceed on 
his voyage till he came to the citie ofCeuola: 
where he found men that would not let him 
enter into the towne, but shut him into a 
great house which stoode without the citie, 
and straightway tooke all things from him 
which hee carried to truck and barter with 
them, and certain turqueses, and other 
things which he had received of the Indians 
by the way, and they kept him there all that 
night without giving him meate or drinke, 
and the next day in the morning this In- 
dian was a thirst, and went out of the house 
to drinke at a river that was neere at hand, 
and within a little while after he saw 
Stephan running away, and the people fol- 
lowed him, and slewe certain of the Indians 
which went in his company. And when this 
Indian saw these things, he hid himselfe on 
the banks of the river, and afterw^ard crossed 
the high way of the desert. The Indians that 
went with me bearing these newes began 
incontinently to lament, and I thought these 
heavie and bad news would cost mee my 



life, neither did I feare so much the losse 
t>f mine owne life, as that I should not bee 
able to returne to give information of the 
greatnesses of that Countrey, where our 
Lord God might be glorified : and streight 
way I cut the cords of my budgets which 
I carried with me ful of merchandise for 
traffique, which I would not doe till then, 
nor give anything to any man, and began to 
divide all that I carried with mee among the 
principall men, willing them not to be afraid, 
but to goe forward with me, and so they did. 
And going on our way, within a dayes 
iourney of Ceuola wee met two other In- 
dians of those which went with Stephan, 
which were bloody and wounded in many 
places : and as soone as they came to us, they 
which were with me began to make great 
lamentation. These wounded Indians I 
asked for Stephan, and they agreeing in all 
poynts with the first Indian sayd, that after 
they had put him into the foresayd great 
house without giving him meat or drinke all 
that day and all that night, they tooke from 
Stephan all the things which hee carried 
with him. The next day when the Sunne 
was a lance high, Stephan went out of the 
house, and some of the chiefe men with him, 
and suddenly came store of people from the 
citie, whom as soone as hee sawe he began 
to run away and we likewise, and foorthwith 
they shot at us and wounded us, and cer- 
taine dead men fell upon us, and so we lay 
till night and durst not stirre, and we heard 
great rumours in the citie, and saw many 
men and women keeping watch and ward 



upon the walles thereof, and after this we 
could not see Stephan any more, and wee 
thinke they have shot him to death, as they 
have done all the rest which went with him, 
so that none are escaped but we onely. 




The Situation and Greatnesse of the Citie of 
Ceuola, and How Frier Marcus Tooke Posses- 
sion Thereof and of Other Provinces, Calling 
the Same The New Kingdomes of S. Francis, 
and How After His Departure from Thence 
Being Reserved by God in So Dangerous a Voy- 
age,. He Arrived at Compostella in Nueva Galicia. 

AVING considered the former re- 
port of the Indians, and the 
evill meanes which I had to pros- 
ecute my voyage as I desired, I 
thought it not good wilfully to loose my 
life as Stephan did ; and so tolde them, that 
God would punish those of Ceuola, and that 
the Viceroy when he should understand 
what had happened, would send many chris- 
tians to chastise them: but they would not 
believe me, for they sayde that no man was 
able to withstand the power of Ceuola. And 
herewith I left them, and went aside two or 
three stones cast, and when I returned I 
found an Indian of mine which I had 
brought from Mexico called Marcus, who 
wept and sayde unto me : Father, tnese men 
have consulted to kill us, for they say, that 
through your and Stephans meanes their 
fathers are slaine, and that neither man nor 
woman of them shall remaine unslaine. 
Then againe I divided among them certaine 
other things which I had, to appease them, 



whereupon they were somewhat pacified, al- 
beit they still shewed great griefe for the 
people which were slaine. I requested some 
of them to goe to Ceuola, to see if any other 
Indian were escaped, with intent that they 
might learne some newes of Stephan ; which 
I could not obtaine at their handes. When 
I saw this, I sayd unto them, that I purposed 
to see the citie of Ceuola, whatsoever came 
of it. They sayde that none of them would 
goe with me. At the last when they sawe 
mee resolute, two of the chiefe of them 
sayde they would goe with me ; with whome 
and with mine Indians and interpreters I 
followed my way, till I came within sight of 
Ceuola, which is situate on a plaine at the 
f oote of a round hill, and maketh shew to bee 
a faire citie, and is better seated then any 
that I have seene in these partes. The 
houses are builded in order, according as 
the Indians told me, all made of stone with 
divers stories, and flatte roofes, as farre as 
I could discerne from a mountaine, whither 
I ascended to viewe the citie. The people 
are somewhat white, they weare apparell, 
and lie in beds, their weapons are bowes, 
they have Emeralds and other iewels, al- 
though they esteeme none so much as tur- 
queses wherewith they adome the walles of 
the porches of their houses, and their ap- 
parell and vessels, and they use them instead 
of money through all the Countrey. Their 
apparell is of cotton and Oxe hides, and 
this is their most commendable and honour- 
able apparell. They use vessels of gold and 
silver, for they have no other mettall, where- 



of there is greater use and more abundance 
then in Peru, and they buy the same for tur- 
queses in the province of the Pintados, 
where there are sayd to be mines of great 
abundance. Of other Kingdomes I could 
not obtaine so particular instruction. Divers 
times I was tempted to goe thither, because 
I knewe I could but hazard my life, and 
that I had offered unto God the first day 
that I began my iourney : in the ende I be- 
gan to bee afraid, considering in what dan- 
ger I should put my selfe, and that if I 
should dye, the knowledge of this countrey 
should be lost, which in my iudgement is 
the greatest and the best that hitherto hath 
beene discovered : and when I tolde the chief 
men, what a goodly citieCeuola seemed unto 
mce, they answered me that it was the least 
of the seven cities, and that Totonteac is the 
greatest and best of them all, because it hath 
so many houses and people, and there is no 
ende of them. Having scene the disposition 
and situation of the place, I thought good 
to name that countrey El Nueva reyno de 
San Francisco: in which place I made a 
great heape of stones by the helpe of the 
Indians, and on the toppe thereof I set up 
a small slender crosse because I wanted 
meanes to make a greater, and sayd that I 
set up that crosse and heape in the name of 
the most honourable Lord Don Antonio de 
•Mendoga Viceroy and Captaine generall of 
Nueva Espanna, for the Emperour our 
Lord, in token of possession, according to 
mine instruction. Which possession I sayd 
that I tcoke in that place of all the seven 



cities, and of the Kingdomes of Totonteac, 
of Acus, and of Marata. Thus I returned 
with much more feare then victuals, and 
went untill I found the people which I had 
left behind mee, with all the speede that I 
could make, whome I overtooke in two 
dayes travell, and went in their company till 
I had passed the desert, where I was not 
made so much of as before : for both men. 
and women made great lamentation for the 
people which were slaine at Ceuola,and with 
feare I hastened from the people of this 
valley, and travelled tenne leagues the first 
day, and so I went daily eight or ten leagues, 
without staying until I had passed the sec- 
ond desert. And though I were in feare, yet 
I determined to go to the great plaine, 
whereof I said before, that I had informa- 
tion, being situate at the foote of the moun- 
taines, and in that place I vnderstoode, that 
this plaine is inhabited for many dayes 
iourney toward the East, but I durst not 
enter into it, considering, that if hereafter 
wee shoulde inhabite this other countrey of 
the seven cities, and the kingdomes before 
mentioned, that then I might better discover 
the same, without putting my selfe in hazard, 
and leaue it for this time, that I might give 
relation of the things which I had now 
scene. At the entrance of this plaine I sawe 
but seven Townes onely of a reasonable big- 
nesse, which were a farre off in a lowe valley 
beeing very greene and a most fruitfull 
soyle, out of which ranne many Rivers. I 
was informed that there was much golde in 
this valley, and that the inhabitants worke 


it into vessels and thinne plates, wherewith 
they strike and take off their sweat, and 
that they are people that will not suffer those 
of the other side of the plaine to traffique 
with them, and they could not tell me the 
cause thereof. Here I set up two crosses, 
and tooke possession of the plaine and valley 
in like sort and order, as I did at other 
places before mentioned. And from thence 
I returned on my voyage with as much haste 
as I coulde make, untill I came to the citie 
of Saint Michael in the province of Culiacan, 
thinking there to have found Francis Vaz- 
quez de Coronado governour of Nueva Ga- 
licia, and finding him not there, I proceeded 
on my iourney till I came to the citie of 
Compostella, where I found him. I write 
not here many other particularities, because 
they are impertinent to this matter : I only 
report that which I have scene, and which 
was toide me concerning the countreys 
through which I travelled, and of those 
which I had information of. 




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